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North-south divide over cancer survival

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People living in the north of England are significantly more likely to die from cancer than those living in the rest of the country, suggests a new report published last week.

The first report from the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) – which analysed data from regional cancer networks – says that cancer deaths are 20% higher in the north than in the rest of England.

According to the report, 68 per 100,000 men in the North of England Cancer Network died from lung cancer in 2005, compared with just 36 per 100,000 in Surrey, West Sussex and Hampshire.

David Forman, professor of cancer epidemiology at Leeds University and NCIN information and analysis lead, said: ‘These figures show us that some of the past trends aren’t changing – cancer death rates remain higher in the north than the rest of England.

‘Smoking is responsible for nearly nine in ten cases of lung cancer. More people in the north smoke, and this explains why lung cancer rates are so much higher,’ he added.

The researchers said that high levels of deprivation in the north - which are linked to later diagnosis – could also have an affect on mortality.

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