Cancer 'postcode lottery' condemned

A consultant analysing a mammogram for signs of cancer

A consultant analysing a mammogram for signs of cancer

First published in National News © by

Areas with the worst survival rates for cancer have been named and shamed by a charity after it said there is an "inexcusable" postcode lottery of care across England.

Macmillan Cancer Support said that there are wide regional variations in the proportion of patients who do not survive a year after diagnosis.

The charity said that 24% patients in the best performing local health area - north east Hampshire and Farnham - die within a year.

But in the worst regions almost four in 10 patients die within 12 months of diagnosis.

In Barking and Dagenham, east London, 38% of patients die within a year of diagnosis. The same proportion of patients die in this time frame in Crawley, West Sussex, Newham, east London, Swale, Kent, Thanet, also in Kent, and t he Vale Royal health area - which covers Winsford, Northwich and surrounding rural areas in Cheshire.

According to Macmillan 's analysis of Office for National Statistics data, 37% of people in Medway, Kent, die within 12 months of diagnosis, 36% die within a year in Waltham Forest, north east London, and the same proportion die in this time frame in Telford and Wrekin in the West Midlands and in Luton, Bedfordshire.

Meanwhile many other areas around England have much better survival rates, the charity found.

Macmillan said that the postcode lottery could be explained by how quickly patients are being diagnosed and treated. A spokeswoman said that areas with the poorest survival rates are on average failing to meet at least one key NHS waiting time targets for treatments.

The charity has estimated that if the whole country managed to match the survival rates seen in the 10 best-performing areas, 6,000 people would survive longer every year.

"This analysis shows an inexcusable postcode lottery which is responsible for 6,000 people dying needlessly within 12 months of being diagnosed with cancer every year," said Juliet Bouverie, director of services and influencing at Macmillan Cancer Support.

"It's a no-brainer - when patients have to wait longer for diagnosis and treatment their chances of surviving are significantly reduced.

"It is also a disgrace that our survival rates continue to lag behind other European countries. Failure to act now will see us fall further behind.

"All the Westminster political parties must make cancer a top health priority ahead of the general election and commit to reducing the number of people who are diagnosed late."

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