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Deaths from three of top four cancers in the UK to almost halve between 1992 and 2020

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But chances of surviving lung cancer still lag behind breast, prostate and colorectal, warns charity

Cancer survivor woman patient chemotherapy

















The proportion of breast, prostate and colorectal cancer patients dying from their illness in the UK will decrease by 44% between 1992 and 2020, whilst deaths from lung cancer will decrease by only 16%, according to new projections by Macmillan Cancer Support.

The data compare the percentage of Britons diagnosed with one of the four most common cancers in the UK who die in a given year, and the proportion of them for whom the cancer is the cause of death.

In seven years time only one in three (36%) breast and prostate cancer patients and nearly two in five (39%) people with colorectal cancer will die from their cancer. Whereas a shocking three in four (76%) lung cancer patients will not survive their illness.

Previous Macmillan research estimated that by 2020 almost one in two people (47%) will get cancer in their lifetime but almost four in ten (38%) will not die from the disease. However these new figures show that the trend is not consistent across even the most common cancers.

Professor Jane Maher, Chief Medical Officer at Macmillan Cancer Support, says:

“People diagnosed with three of the four most common cancers are more likely to survive but GPs need more support to help them diagnose lung cancer earlier. We’ve been working with the GP community to develop the tools that can help.”

Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, says:

“Lung cancer patients deserve better. It is high time we closed the gap between survival rates for different cancers and give everyone the best possible chance of recovery.

“There are three key things that could help to achieve this. Firstly, we support the call for plain packaging of cigarettes to stop people taking up smoking, secondly we must catch the illness earlier through better awareness and we have to make sure access to surgery is more uniform across the country to reduce inequalities in cancer survival. It cannot be right that you are much more likely to get the surgery you need if you live in Leicestershire, than if you live in Lancashire.”

Macmillan is calling on the NHS to increase early diagnosis of lung cancer and to provide all patients with equal access to specialist surgery.

For detail of the analysis and methods supporting these new figures please see here.

No-one should face cancer alone. If you need information or support, please call 0808 808 00 00 or visit

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