cancer patient in the NHS
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NHS England has published a one-year cancer survival index, showing how cancer survival rates have improved across the country by almost 10%

The cancer survival rate in England has increased from 65.6% in 2005 to 74.1% in 2019 and 74.6% in 2020.

Three out of every four people survive their cancer the first year after being diagnosed. However, according to new research by the NHS, rates of survival for some cancers are even higher.

Cancer diagnosis and treatment have become a main priority since the pandemic, with more than 7.3 million urgent referrals and over 1.6 million people receiving cancer treatment between March 2020 and January 2023.

NHS England has placed special prioritisation on those waiting longer than 62 days for their first treatment, and because of this, more people are able to go in for screening, with 15 million invites in the past year.

Additionally, there have been 94 community diagnostic centres opened since 2021, which have delivered 3.3 million checks, tests and scans.

Quicker access to tests, scans and checks

What is the NHS’ one-year cancer survival index?

NHS England’s one-year cancer survival index looks at cancer survival rates in 2020 compared to 2005.

The index shows the overall first-year survival rate has risen 9% to 74.6%. The one-year breast cancer survival index is now about 97% and for bowel cancer the survival rate is now above 80%.

Breaking down the figures by types of cancer and where patients live, NHS England’s early diagnosis strategy has elements including:

  • Raising awareness of cancer symptoms
  • Encouraging people to come forward
  • Implementing targeted interventions for cancer types which are difficult to diagnose

Focussing on year-one survival, these statistics reveal that 5-year cancer survival rates have also improved for most types of cancer, and child cancer survival rates were up to more than 86%.

Child cancer survival rates were up to more than 86%

Health Minister Helen Whately said: “These figures are highly encouraging and support those released earlier this year which show improved survival rates across almost all types of cancer. They are evidence of the great strides being made by the NHS, scientists and our incredible cancer charities.

“We are laser-focused on fighting cancer on all fronts – prevention, diagnosis, treatment, research and funding – and have opened over 94 ‘one stop shops’ so people can have quicker access to tests, scans and checks. We are also taking a vaccine taskforce style approach to cancer research to develop new immune-based cancer therapies, including cancer vaccines, as well as producing a major conditions strategy.

“Early diagnosis is crucial to improving survival rates”

“We know there is more to do and early diagnosis is crucial to improving survival rates even further. Our ambition is to diagnose 75% of cancer at an early stage by 2028 which will help save tens of thousands of lives for longer.”


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