A cancer charity has slammed the “shocking” postcode lottery which means sufferers in some parts of the country have significantly less chance of survival.
Cancer Research UK said there was “no excuse” for the differences and called for urgent action from the Government.
The second annual cancer reform strategy report, released by the Department of Health, showed, for example, that a lung cancer patient in Hertfordshire was three times more likely to die within a year of diagnosis than a patient in Kensington and Chelsea.
The report also showed almost all Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) failed to match the best cancer survival rates in Europe.
The report showed:
For lung cancer, Kensington & Chelsea had the best one-year survival rate (43.7%) while the worst was in Herefordshire (15.4%). The national average was 28.1%.
For bowel cancer, one-year survival was 80% in Telford and Wrekin but just 57.9% in Waltham Forest. The international “good practice” level is 79%.
For breast cancer one-year survival was 99% in Torbay but just 89% in Tower Hamlets.
Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “These shocking statistics confirm that the cancer postcode lottery remains a real problem.
“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.
“There is no excuse for such a big difference between different areas.
“It’s a disgrace that such a small proportion of PCTs have survival rates that match the best figures in Europe, or even the best rates in Europe 10 years ago.
“This needs urgent action.”
He said the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI) now needed further investment to speed up its work.
And he said PCTs need to make earlier diagnosis a “major priority”, adding: “We must set an aspiration that brings our survival rates up to the best in Europe in the next ten years. We can only achieve this by getting cancer diagnosed earlier.”
National Cancer Director Professor Mike Richards said: “This year we have seen a further fall in cancer mortality with the latest data showing a drop of almost 20% since 1997 and considerable improvements in the survival rates for breast, colon, rectum and prostate cancer.
“The challenge now is to keep up this momentum and this year I have identified tackling local variations as my top priority. I urge all PCTs to use this new data to take action so we can improve outcomes for all cancer patients.”
Yesterday he revealed that up to 10,000 people die of cancer every year because their condition is diagnosed too late.
He said earlier detection could save between 5,000 and 10,000 lives in England and branded the current diagnosis situation as “unacceptable”.
Ciaran Devane, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “We welcome the publication of this data as a means to ensure the local NHS delivers on the Cancer Reform Strategy. This will provide an opportunity for the whole NHS to learn from the success of the best performing PCTs and will help to improve standards across the board.”