The Office for National Statistics has released new figures for cancer survival rates in England.

Thursday 24 January 2019      Health information
a woman looking at breast screening images

New statistics on cancer survival in England, released today by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), reveal the one-year, five-year and ten-year survival estimates for adults diagnosed with cancer between 2012-2016 and followed up to 2017, and by stage at diagnosis.

The figures revealed:

  • Of the common cancers included in the analysis, breast cancer had the second highest one-year survival (96%) for women, after melanoma of the skin. For five-year survival, this figure was 85%, behind melanoma of the skin and thyroid cancer
  • Whilst those diagnosed with breast cancers at stage one have a 100% chance of surviving for one year after diagnosis, 66% of those diagnosed at stage four will be alive one year after diagnosis
  • Five-year survival for those diagnosed with stage four breast cancer was 28%
  • Overall, predicted ten-year survival for women with breast cancer is 77%

Sally Greenbrook, Policy Manager at Breast Cancer Now, said:

These figures show just how important early detection is in giving breast cancer patients the best chance of survival. The earlier the disease is found, the more likely treatment is to be successful – and we’d urge all women to check their breasts regularly and to attend screening when invited.

But the sharp decline in survival outcomes when breast cancer is diagnosed later is extremely worrying and shows just how much more there is to do on metastatic breast cancer. If we are to finally stop more women dying from breast cancer, we urgently need to find ways to stop the disease spreading, and to treat it effectively when it does.

The NHS Breast Screening Programme remains absolutely critical to earlier diagnosis and we need to do all we can to make the most of it, including by improving attendance. While screening comes with some risks to be aware of, it has been shown to prevent 1,300 deaths from breast cancer each year in the UK and we’d encourage all women to attend.

It’s also vital that all women check their breasts regularly, including between screening appointments, and visit their GP if they notice any unusual changes. It could save your life.

In response to figures showing women diagnosed with stage one breast cancer have the same chance of still being alive one year later as the general population, Greenbrook added:

It’s fantastic that, thanks to research, one-year survival for patients diagnosed at stage one remains over 99%, but we cannot ignore the devastating impacts of breast cancer on patients’ quality of life. Following their diagnosis and as they undergo long-term treatment, many women will be going through some of the most gruelling months and years of their lives – and we need to do all we can to help more patients live well.