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Common cancer survival rates lagging

The UK's survival rates for common cancers are still lagging behind other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, the Nuffield Trust revealed today.

Between 2007 and 2012 82% of women survived more than five years for breast cancer, compared to 87.4% in Sweden. The UK's five-year survival rates for cervical and bowel cancers were also worse than other countries, and overall mortality rates remain higher than comparable countries.

Commenting on the report, Nuffield Trust chief executive Nigel Edwards said: “Our poor performance on cancer survival compared with other leading countries is well-known and continues to be a concern.

“We enter the new parliament with a mountain to climb in reducing preventable hospital admissions and improving survival from common killer diseases, all at a time of continuing austerity affecting public services,” he said.

However, the UK performs very well with cancer screening, as over three-quarters of 50-69 year old women have been screened for breast cancer and cervical screening rates are also high.

Britain's flu vaccination rates are higher than another countries, with low antibiotic prescribing rates, suggesting a well-functioning primary care system.

Rates of potentially preventable hospital admissions for chronic respiratory conditions, and the mortality of heart attacks are also high.

Dr Jennifer Dixon, chief executive of the Health Foundation, said: “This research is encouraging - improvements in the quality of care are being made in the UK across a range of areas. But there are obvious areas where the UK lags behind other countries… To make progress, we need much more probing as to why, and what we can learn from how care is organised in other countries.”

There are currently 34 OECD countries, including France, Japan, Australia and Greece.