Five year relative survival rates for selected cancers: for adults diagnosed during 1998-2001, England
Survival rates in England improved for most cancers in both sexes over the period 1996-2001. This is likely to continue for most cancers in the near future.
For the majority of cancers, a higher proportion of women than men survived for at least five years after diagnosis (known as five-year survival). Age is also an important factor. Among adults, the younger the age at diagnosis, the higher the survival rate for almost every cancer.
In men the highest five-year survival rate was for testicular cancer - 97 per cent for those diagnosed during 1998-2001. For women the highest five-year survival rate (88 per cent) was for malignant melanoma of the skin.
Pancreatic cancer had the lowest five-year survival rate for both men and women – only around 3 per cent and 2 per cent respectively.
Prostate cancer survival at five years among men diagnosed during 1998-2001 was 71 per cent. This was around 6 percentage points higher than for patients diagnosed during 1996-99. Much of this was due to increasingly widespread use of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing.
Breast cancer survival at five years among the 132,300 women diagnosed during 1998-2001 was 80 per cent. The five-year survival from colon cancer increased in both sexes to around 50 per cent for patients diagnosed in 1998-2001. Compared with results for patients diagnosed during 1996-99, five-year survival rates for both breast cancer in women and colon cancer in men and women were around 2.5 percentage points higher for those diagnosed during 1998-2001.
Five-year survival for lung cancer patients diagnosed during 1998 2001 was 6 per cent in men and 7 per cent in women. This was not significantly better than for patients diagnosed a decade or so earlier.
Five-year relative survival rates for patients diagnosed during 1998-2001 also increased, by around 2.5 to 4.5 percentage points, compared with results for patients diagnosed in 1996-99 for the following cancers: leukaemia, myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, rectum and uterus. Five-year relative survival for bladder cancer fell over the period as a consequence of changes in the coding and classification of some bladder tumours.
Sources: Office for National Statistics, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), funded in part by Cancer Research UK.
Notes: This analysis, updates data in 'Trends and socioeconomic inequalities in cancer survival in England and Wales up to 2001' (British Journal of Cancer 9th March 2004). Relative survival is the ratio of the observed survival in the group being studied and the survival that would have been expected had they been subject only to the mortality rates of the general population. The five-year relative survival rates are for adults and have been age-standardised to control for changes in the age profile of cancer patients over time, making them comparable with previously published figures. The PSA test enables some invasive prostate cancers to be identified earlier than in the past, an increasing survival time. The PSA test identifies some latent, non-lethal tumours that may never cause symptoms or be diagnosed in life. Both groups are included.