This week’s news that cancer survival rates in England continue to increase is welcome. Everyone involved in cancer services – from the doctors and nurses who treat patients, to the policymakers who have invested in cancer care, to the researchers who discover and develop new treatments – deserves our congratulation and gratitude.
Yet the figures are also a sobering reminder of the task remaining. Many of the cancers with the highest survival rates are also those characterised by significant improvements in treatment on recent years. Today’s news that prostate cancer mortality rates have declined by 20 per cent over the past two decades shows what can be achieved. But for every breast cancer, prostate cancer or lymphoma, there is a lung, pancreatic or oesophageal cancer, where outcomes remain stubbornly poor.