New report shows slow-down in cancer survival trends in Wales

A new report published by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit (WCISU) at Public Health Wales shows that long-term increases in cancer survival are slowing down.
Dr Dyfed Wyn Huws, Director of WCISU said:
“Cancer survival continues to increase overall in Wales, but the improvement trend has slowed slightly.
“The most recent gains we’ve seen in cancer survival have not been sustained at the same rate as we have seen in the past.
“In Wales, and the UK more widely our report shows that five-year cancer survival in the most disadvantaged communities in Wales is only three-quarters of that in least disadvantaged, with little recent improvement in inequality.
“For the latest period that we measured, the gap between lower survival in the most disadvantaged areas and better survival in the least disadvantaged was 11.5 percentage points for one-year survival, and 16.8 percentage points for five-year survival. The gap in five-year survival is widening for breast and lung cancers.
“It is encouraging that one-year bowel cancer survival inequality by area disadvantage has decreased slightly, although the gap remains twice as wide as for lung cancer.”
Wales and all the other UK countries have tended to have lower cancer survival than many other western countries. However, the most recent data showed that there were also no significant differences between Wales and England for most cancer types, apart from one-year lung cancer survival, and leukaemia, and cancers of the prostate and stomach for five-year survival.
“The continued improvement in cancer survival is encouraging, with lung cancer seeing one of the largest increases compared to many other cancers.” continued Dr Huws.
“In part, this may have been driven by a series of healthcare and patient-related initiatives introduced throughout Wales.
“Despite these gains, inequalities in lung, bowel and breast cancer survival persist.
“At the same time, improvements in cancer survival have slowed-down in Wales. This may be partly as a result of a wider slow-down in the expected gains in life-expectancy in Wales this decade.
“This phenomenon appeared across many causes of death, including from some cancers, and appears to particularly affect the most disadvantaged communities in Wales.  A range of wider social and economic factors are likely to be influencing life-expectancy, but the reasons for it are complex and under further detailed investigation.
“This trend in life-expectancy is not unique, and has been observed across much of the western World since around 2011, although it has been particularly marked in the UK and USA,” he concluded.