1. ITV Report

A third of cancer patients in Luton die within a year of diagnosis

Cancer survival rates in Luton have been criticised by Macmillan Cancer Support. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Too many cancer patients living in Luton die within a year of diagnosis, according to a leading charity.

Macmillan Cancer Support has today named the town in a list of areas with the worst survival rates in the country.

It has condemned the "inexcusable" postcode lottery of care found across England.

In Luton, more than a third of patients - or 36% - die within 12 months of receiving a cancer diagnosis.

In the best parts of the country, less than one in four lose their battle in the first year.

Macmillan is calling on the government and all political parties to commit to reducing the number of people diagnosed late.

"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.

"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."

– Juliet Bouverie, Director of Services and Influencing, Macmillan Cancer Support.

Today, Luton's Clinical Commissioning Group, which is responsible for the funding of health services in the area, defended the care provided to cancer patients.

A spokesman said the town had high levels of deprivation, a large immigrant population - many of whom struggled to access health services - and a number of other "health inequalities" which could get in the way of early diagnosis and treatment.

But in a joint statement with Macmillan Cancer Support, the CCG outlined the work being done to improve outcomes for patients which include:

  • Training 30 volunteers to work as Cancer Peer Educators to encourage people to take part in early screening programmes and encourage patients to seek advice from their GP.
  • Two Macmillan GPs based in Luton working with the CCG to improve cancer care at all levels.
  • Education events and resources for GPs.
  • Re-designing referral pathways to speed up access to diagnosis and treatment.

"In Luton, we have a strong ethos of partnership working, supporting a trusting relationship between patients, carers and clinicians.

"This strength gives us optimism that the CCG and Macmillan can continue to deliver innovative services to the people in Luton, to help save more lives from cancer and achieve an increase in the survival rate of cancer patients."

– Luton Clinical Commissioning Group and Macmillan Cancer Support.