Six less survivable cancers “as deadly as they were in the 1970s”

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People with the six less survivable cancers in England are almost five times less likely to survive beyond five years, compared with patients with one of the 11 more survivable cancers, according to a new analysis.

People with the more survivable cancers have on average a 64% chance of living beyond five years, whereas people with less survivable cancers – pancreatic, liver, brain, lung, oesophageal and stomach – only have a 14% chance.

The disparity has been revealed by the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce, five charities which have joined forces with the aim of transforming the future for people with pancreatic, liver, brain, lung, oesophageal and stomach cancer.

The analysis also shows that the six less survivable cancers cause over half (51%) of all deaths from common cancers in the UK per year – close to 70,000 deaths.

The Taskforce is made up of Pancreatic Cancer UK, the British Liver Trust, The Brain Tumour Charity, Action Against Heartburn, and Core. It says that the unacceptable prognosis of the six cancers is due to a number of factors, including a lack of research.

Over the last 12 years, the six diseases received 17% of UK research funding for common cancers, with the remainder dedicated to the 11 more survivable cancers.

Other reasons for the poor prognosis include late diagnosis, a lack of treatment options and low awareness of symptoms.

John Baron, MP for Basildon and Billericay and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer, said: “It is very concerning that someone diagnosed with one of these six cancers has, on average, just a 14% chance of living beyond five years after their cancer is detected. Whilst over the last 40 years the five-year survival rate has almost doubled for breast cancer and prostate cancer, these six less survivable cancers are more or less as deadly as they were in the 1970s.

“We need to do more to ensure that these less survivable cancers receive the appropriate attention, particularly when it comes to research funding, improving diagnosis and treatment.”