Over the 60 years the NHS has been in existence the number of people surviving some of the most common types of cancer has doubled, according to figures.
Patients with breast, colon and bowel cancer have a far greater chance of surviving than when the NHS was first launched.
This is despite a huge rise in the number of cancer cases owing to a growing population and people living longer.
However, the figures showed that patients suffering stomach or lung cancer still have a poor prognosis.
The analysis, by Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN), showed the survival rate for colon cancer more than doubled from 18% to 47%, and breast cancer survival also more than doubled, from 37% to 77%, between 1946 and 1998.
Cervical cancer survival rates have also increased, from 35% for people diagnosed between 1945 and 1947, to 61% for those diagnosed between 1996 and 1999.
In contrast, although survival for stomach cancer has improved (4% to 13%) and also for lung cancer (3% to 6%), the prognosis is still very poor for both cancers.
Screening programmes have led to improved detection rates, which has contributed to a higher overall number of cancer cases being recorded.