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Cancer charity hits out at “shocking” postcode lottery

1 December 2009

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A leading cancer charity has said there is “no excuse” for the “shocking” postcode lottery which means sufferers in some parts of the country have significantly less chance of survival than others.

The comments follow the release of the second annual cancer reform strategy report by the Department of Health, which has revealed wide differences in the survival rates of particular types of cancer in different parts of the country.

The report showed that a lung cancer sufferer in Kensington & Chelsea had the highest one-year survival rate (43.7%) while the survival rate in Herefordshire was only 15.4%.

For bowel cancer, the one-year survival rate was 80% in Telford and Wrekin but just 57.9% in Waltham Forest. The international “good practice” level is 79%.

Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “Patients are undoubtedly not being diagnosed early enough in large parts of the country, nor are they getting equal access to the best treatments, such as surgery for lung cancer.”

Katherine Murphy, Director of the Patients Association, said: “The NHS had made some real improvements with cancer care.

“We need to make sure GPs are receiving the right training and, more importantly, that cases they miss are being scrutinised so that they can avoid repeating that mistake.”

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Cancer Research UK