Cancer survival statistics for Wales show “mixed picture” says Public Health Wales
The latest Cancer Survival in Wales statistics published today show a “mixed picture” According to Public Health Wales (PHW).
Experts at the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit (WCISU), part of PHW, have said that although the apparent recent improvements in cancer survival are encouraging, “the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic will affect patient outcomes remain unknown.”
Further research is underway in Wales to investigate how cancer detection and treatment have changed since the pandemic.
One-year and five-year cancer survival increased across Wales for many commonly diagnosed cancer types such as lung and prostate.
However, there has been a levelling off and even a decrease in recent years for some less commonly diagnosed cancers such as bladder, anus, larynx and uterine.
WCISU said: “The cancer stage at diagnosis remains important in determining long-term outcomes.”
“Survival decreases as stage at diagnosis advances for example; colorectal cancer has a one-year survival of 87 per cent when diagnosed at stage 3 this figure more than halves to 41 per cent if diagnosed at stage 4”
“The analysis published today uses ONS published life tables which do not fully account for changes in background mortality due to the Covid pandemic. Further research is underway to investigate and understand how cancer detection and treatment may have changed as a result. ”
For all cancer types diagnosed during the latest period of 2015-2019, survival decreases as stage diagnosis advances.
However, the gradient of the decrease varies between cancer types.
• The majority of cancer types diagnosed at stage 1 during the latest period of 2015-2019 had a high one-year survival figure, above 90%.
• For many cancers, there is a relatively big drop in survival from stage 3 to stage 4. One-year survival for prostate cancer diagnosed during the latest period of our analysis (patients diagnosed between 2015-2019) remains at 100% up until stage 3 and drops to 86% at stage 4. Breast cancer diagnosed in the same period has a one-year survival of 96% at stage 3 which drops to 62% at stage 4 and colorectal cancer has a one-year survival of 87% at stage 3 which more than halves to 41% at stage 4.
• A similar pattern is observed for five-year survival, although with larger falls. Five-year survival for prostate cancer is 99% up until stage 3 and drops to 50% at stage 4. Breast cancer has a five-year survival of 76% at stage 3 and drops to 21% at stage 4. Colorectal cancer has a five-year survival of 63% at stage 3 which drops to 9% at stage 4.
• Other cancer types have steeper declines across the stages at diagnosis. One-year survival for lung cancer diagnosed during the latest period of 2015-2019 is relatively high at 86% for stage 1 but this drops by almost 20 percentage points to 67% at stage 2. There is then another large drop between stages 3 and 4 (44% to 16%). Official Statistics: Cancer Survival 2002-2019 August 2022
• Five-year survival for lung cancer diagnosed during the latest period of 2015-2019 is 53% for stage 1. This drops to 34% at stage 2. There is another large drop between stages 3 and 4 (12% to 3%).
Dr Giles Greene, Head of Population Cancer Research at WCISU said:
“We have engaged in collaborative research with Swansea University, Queens University Belfast and Oxford University.”
“We are examining how the unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic response affected cancer services and whether the response impacted long-standing health inequalities to give us a better understanding of how the pandemic has affected overall cancer survival rates.”
Commenting on the news that there is a “mixed picture” for cancer survival in Wales, Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister, Russell George MS said:
“I am deeply concerned that, even before the pandemic, Welsh cancer patients had poorer outcomes and survival rates compared to the rest of the UK.
“Labour ministers have failed to treat cancer with the urgency required and is the only part of the UK without a cancer strategy – clearly showing what little regard they have on this issue.
“Labour need to get a grip and take immediate action to give cancer patients the priority they deserve.”
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