The new survey, commissioned by Breast Cancer Campaign[1], comes as the charity launches a nationwide campaign, ‘Spread the word’ to highlight that too many women are still dying from breast cancer.

The results show that around only a quarter of people questioned (26%) realised that the UK’s breast cancer five year survival rate is worse than the European average. In fact, the UK’s five year survival rate for breast cancer patients is shockingly far behind many European neighbours, including France, Italy and Germany.

In the UK, 79% of breast cancer patients will survive five years after diagnosis, but this is far behind other countries, including France, where 86% of patients survive five years or more. The UK’s five year survival rate is also below the European average of 82%[2].

Further insight from the charity’s survey show how the public expects that the UK would be faring much better in relation to breast cancer survival when compared to other European countries than is actually the case.

  • 16% of people think that the UK’s breast cancer five year survival rate is better than the European average
  • 30% of people think that the UK’s breast cancer five year survival rate is similar to the European average
  • 29% of people don’t know if the UK’s breast cancer five year survival rate is better, worse or similar to the European average
  • 39% expected the UK to have better survival rates than Slovenia, whereas the reality is they are extremely similar
  • 87% of people expected the UK’s breast cancer five year survival rate to be better than or similar to Portugal, when in reality the UK is worse

In response to the new survey findings, Breast Cancer Campaign is today launching its ‘Spread the word’ campaign. While there has been incredible progress towards beating breast cancer over the past 20 years, thousands of people across the UK are still living with a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer – when cancer has spread from the breast to other parts of the body – for which there is no cure.

The campaign aims to bring together all those affected by breast cancer and all those who believe in beating this disease to send a message to politicians that breast cancer is not a done deal and that they must make sure that breast cancer is on their agenda when agreeing their manifestos for the 2015 election.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer Campaign, said:

“People will be surprised that the UK lags so far behind our European neighbours and will realise that much more must be done to improve survival rates. We need to have ambitions and targets for breast cancer survival that take us to being amongst the best in Europe – aiming for average is not good enough.


“While we have made significant progress, we’re in real danger of losing momentum before the job is done. The effect of breast cancer on those living with the disease cannot be underestimated and with 12,000 women still dying every year in the UK, we cannot afford to forget about the disease. Our campaign has been launched to ensure we continue the fight against breast cancer. We must show unrelenting momentum if more women are to outlive and overcome breast cancer in the future.”  

Mr Sean Duffy, National Clinical Director for Cancer at NHS England, said:

"More women in the UK are surviving breast cancer due to better public awareness and screening, faster diagnosis and improved treatments. But we can’t take our eye of the ball, and there is still much more to do. Awareness raising is absolutely key and we welcome this important piece of work.”

[1] Figures from an ICM survey, commissioned by Breast Cancer Campaign. 2,000 GB adults aged 18+ were interviewed online between 6th – 8th June 2014.