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Cancer survival chances better in England than Wales, data reveals

ONS data shows that male and female patients in England still have a better survival rate than their equivalents in Wales for the majority of cancer types.

When comparing the data - which looks at cancer survival in England between 2010 and 2015 - against the most up-to-date data available from Wales*, a clear gulf emerges.

On the measure of one-year survival rates for men and women, Wales performs better than England on just one out of nine cancer types measured: prostate. 

The other measures include cancer of the testis, colon, lung, melanoma, bladder, brain, breast and ovaries – all of which were marked by a divide ranging from 0.3% (testis) to 8.7% (bladder).

Common cancer types – as defined by Cancer Research UK – fairing worst for Wales on the same measure were brain (8% lower for men), ovarian (7.1% lower) and lung cancer (6.3% lower for women).

On the five-year survival rate measure for Wales, just two cancer types surpassed England’s cancer survival rate: prostate and bladder for men, and breast and bladder for women.

Notable differences in patient outcomes for men included lung (11.4% for England versus 4.2% for Wales) and melanoma (87.1% for England versus 80% for Wales).

For women, the starkest discrepancies could be found in ovarian (49.5% for England versus 37.9% in Wales) and lung cancer (15.5% for England versus 6.4% in Wales) survival rates.

Commenting on the data, Welsh Conservative Shadow Secretary for Health, Angela Burns AM, said:

“It is nothing short of a travesty that two nations living side-by-side should have such disparate chances of surviving cancer, and utterly frightening news if you’re a cancer patient living Wales - especially those kinds which affect the brain, ovaries and lungs.

“Hampering survival rates here in Wales are severe shortcomings within cancer waiting times, a lack of fair access to modern and potentially life-saving cancer drugs, and a public health strategy that needs to be better funded and far more rigorous and inventive in bringing home to the public the messages and consequences we face if we do not help ourselves as much as possible.

“Wales is home to some of the world’s leading cancer researchers and are already leading the way on a number of cancer-halting drug developments, so it is vital that our citizens are able to benefit from this.

“Any strategy to improve outcomes for patients should comprise closer integration of cutting-edge research with NHS services, a public health strategy which tackles cancer’s causes, and a readily accessible cancer drugs fund.”