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Cancer plan "boosts survival rates"

A new study has shown the NHS cancer plan in England is working effectively, and has helped improve survival rates.

Survival rates for 21 common cancers were analysed by experts who compared the results for England (where a major cancer plan was introduced in 2000) with Wales, which did not adopt such a plan until late 2006.

The analysis, carried out by Cancer Research UK's cancer survival group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found that England's cancer plan appeared to be helping improve survival rates.

The researchers looked at survival for patients diagnosed before the cancer plan (1996–2000), during initialisation (2001–03) and after implementation (2004–06), examining one-year and three-year survival rates.

Writing in the Lancet Oncology, the authors said that cancers of the stomach, colon, rectum, uterus, ovary and kidney showed an improvement in survival in England after 2001. However, bladder cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma and leukaemia all showed a fall in survival rates.

Overall, they concluded: "These different patterns of survival suggest some beneficial effect of the NHS cancer plan for England, although the data do not so far provide a definitive assessment of the effectiveness of the plan."

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