Breast cancer survival rates increases in Britain

Posted on 21 March 2014

Breast Cancer Scans. Image shot 2004. Exact date unknown. Source The

Breast cancer survival is increasing more quickly in Britain than in any other European country, a new study has found.

The international research shows that death rates in England and Wales from breast cancer have fallen by 41 per cent in just over two decades.

The change represents the greatest improvement in survival seen in the study of 27 countries, presented to the European Breast Cancer Conference in Glasgow yesterday.

However, England and Wales had the highest mortality for breast cancer when the research began, in 1987, so that even the dramatic changes mean its position is now just ninth from worst, while Northern Ireland fares slightly worse.

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Experts said patients had benefited from the introduction of new drugs in recent decades, which have reduced mortality from 41.9 per cent to 25.4 per cent.

The best mortality rates are in Spain, Norway, Sweden and Portugal, which all had death rates below 20 per cent, the latest figures show.

Charities said that too often disease is discovered too late, with cases missed by GPs and delays for hospital scans and diagnostic tests.

Mike Hobday, Director of Policy and Research at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Overall it’s good news that more people than ever are surviving breast cancer in England and Wales, but clearly we still have work to do in the UK to catch up with our European counterparts.

“It’s vital that cancer is caught in its early stages to ensure people have timely access to treatment and support. GPs play a key role here in early referral of suspected cancer and Macmillan is helping them to drive through improvements in diagnosis and to focus much more on keeping people well after their treatment.”

He said the research also showed too many older breast cancer patients being failed.


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