Survival rates in England across lung, prostate, breast, colorectal and ovarian cancers are on the increase, at whatever stage they are diagnosed, health officials said this week.

Data from the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) show that, compared with 2004-2007, one-year survival for lung cancer rose from 28% to 36.3%, while that for ovarian cancer grew from 68.1% to 74.7%, colorectal cancer 71.5% to 77.7%, prostate cancer 93.1% to 96.6%, and breast cancer 94.8% to 96.4%.

Public Health England (PHE) noted that huge advances in the quality and completeness of cancer staging data and the timeliness of the information gathered through the National Cancer Registration Service (NCRS) have enabled a more robust analysis of stage-specific survival.

This has that uncovered improvements in breast and colorectal cancer were most marked in later stage cancers, while earlier stage survival improved in lung cancer. 

‘Incredible achievement’

The boost in the quality of cancer staging data mark an “incredible achievement” for the NCRS, says Jem Rashbass, Director for Disease Registration at PHE’s NCRS, stressing that “it is only by having data of this quality that we can hope to understand where we are making progress on cancer diagnosis and treatment and where to focus our efforts”.

Commenting on the findings, Sean Duffy, National Clinical Director for Cancer at NHS England, said it is “hugely encouraging to see this significant improvement in cancer survival, which is excellent news for patients and a testament to the hard work of the NHS”.

“We will continue to do all we can to keep improving for the benefit of all cancer patients. Our ambition is to raise our survival rates to match the very best in Europe”.

The data comes hot on the heels of a report by Cancer Research UK showing death rates for breast, bowel, lung and prostate cancer combined have fallen 30% in the last 20 years.