UK falls behind in lung cancer survival rates

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LUNG cancer survival rates in the UK lag behind five other developed countries, researchers have found.

One-year survival rates for non-small cell lung cancer – the most common form of the disease – are not as good as those in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, according to a study published in the journal Thorax.

Survival rates for one year ranged from 30 per cent in the UK to 46 per cent in Sweden. Australia and Canada reported one-year survival rates of 42 per cent, while Denmark had 34 per cent and Norway had 39 per cent.

The study, which was conducted by the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership, examined data concerning 57,000 lung cancer patients diagnosed between 2004 and 2007. It examined survival rates and what stage of cancer the patients were at when they were diagnosed.

In Denmark and the UK only one in seven patients with non-small cell lung cancer were diagnosed at the earliest stage of disease, compared with one in five in Sweden and Canada.

One-year survival for patients with the earliest stage disease in the UK was 72.5 per cent – 16 per cent lower than in Sweden.

Sara Hiom, director of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK, said: “This research should remind us that while great progress is being made in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in the UK, we mustn’t be complacent.

“Around 35,000 people still die from lung cancer each year in the UK and that’s far too many.

“We would like to see ongoing improvements in data collection and the use of uniform systems for data on stage, in order to improve the accuracy of global comparisons.”