Thousands of cancer patients 'die unnecessarily'

As many as 10,000 lives could be saved every year in Britain, if cancer treatment was more effective.

New figures show survival rates are among the worst in Europe. Part of the problem is the length of time it takes for cancer to be diagnosed.

Medical Editor Lawrence McGinty reports:

“It’s tragic. It means 10,000 people a year are dying of cancer completely unnecessarily,” cancer specialist Professor Karol Sikora says.

“The problem can be solved by fast-tracking diagnostic process – scans, biopsies not just for those likely to have cancer, but for everybody,” he says.

Research into cancer survival rates found that only the Czech Republic, Poland and Denmark had worse rates for surviving bowel cancer than Britain while cervical cancer rates were worse in only Ireland and Poland, the Health at a Glance 2013 study found.

Read: Cancer survival rates warning

NHS England says the first step is to increase awareness.

“Campaigns over the last two years have demonstrated that we can make improvements in patients’ awareness of symptoms – that’s the first step,“ says Sean Duffy, NHS England Cancer Services director.

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Cancer survival rates warning

Britain's cancer survival rates are lagging behind the rest of Europe and other major economies, with just Poland and Ireland faring worse in some strains of the disease, an international health study has revealed.