More cancer patients in England report that they are being given treatment choices, treated with respect and benefitting from better services, say health officials.

The second annual National Cancer Patient Experience Survey shows that 88% of patient surveyed now rate their overall care as "excellent" or "very good," and that 98 NHS Trusts have improved on their results from last year.

84% of patients now say they were given a choice of different types of cancer treatment before their treatment started, up from 83% last year. 

The latest annual survey also shows that: - 91% of patients (the same percentage as the previous year) now say that they received clear, understandable answers all or most of the time from their Clinical Nurse Specialist; - 94% (up from 93% in the last survey) say they were treated with dignity, having sufficient privacy when being examined or treated; - 83% (up from 81%) felt that they were seen as soon as necessary by a hospital doctor; and  - 83% (the same as the previous year) said they had been told sensitively that they had cancer, and treated with respect.

The latest annual survey was completed by 71,793 patients, 1% more than last year. It provides detailed information on patients' experiences of cancer services, allowing the NHS locally to see how it is performing and to focus on areas where improvement is needed, including better information for patients and better support during inpatient stays.

The 10 most improved Trusts this year are: - Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust; - Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust; - Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; - The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust; - Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust; - East Kent University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; - University Hospital Bristol NHS Foundation Trust; - South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust; - Norfolk & Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; and - Medway NHS Foundation Trust.

Commenting on the survey results, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said that an improved patient experience for cancer patients was "fantastic news," and the National Cancer Director, Professor Sir Mike Richards, added that the information from the survey is "vital to driving improvements on the ground for patients."

However, patient advocates warned that the improvements reported by many Trusts must be the case across all cancer types.

"People who have rarer cancers should not be treated any worse than those with a common cancer," said Juliet Bouverie, director of services at Macmillan Cancer Support.

"Macmillan believes that the NHS Commissioning Board now needs to ensure strong incentives are provided to the NHS so that commissioners are judged on patient experience as a measure of how they are performing," she added.

This was the first year that the survey asked questions about cancer research, and the results "give a stronger indication of cancer patients' willingness to be involved in research," says the Department of Health.

"The research figures are very encouraging," commented Professor Matt Seymour, director of the National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN). 

"Cancer research studies are absolutely critical to how we improve cancer treatment, both for today's patients and for future generations. The UK is leading the world rankings, with more patients taking part in research than anywhere else. So it is great to learn that 95% of patients who were invited to discuss research were glad to have been asked, and this confirms that it is right to give as many people as possible the option of getting involved," said Prof Seymour.