Breast cancer checks, such as examining lymph nodes during surgery, would improve survival rates, according to a study published in the journal Annals of Oncology.
Other checks include measuring hormone levels - most breast cancers are fuelled by oestrogen - which, although recommended in official guidelines, is not always carried out.
Researchers studied data on more than 9,000 patients at 10 hospitals in the east of England. For women under 70, five-year survival ranges from 85% to 90%, and for those over 70 between 65% and 75%.
Hospitals where surgeons checked lymph nodes in more than 90% of patients have better breast-cancer survival rates.
The study also found that for women over 70, survival rates are better when more patients have their hormone sensitivity checked.
Said Professor Stephen Duffy of Queen Mary, University of London and Cancer Research UK: "Although survival rates for breast cancer are very good in hospitals we studied in the east of England, rivalling the best in Europe, we have found that there is still room for improvement."