Flying high in cancer survival rates

BEAUTIFUL countryside, seaside towns and an above average standard of living are all good reasons for living in North Somerset.

BEAUTIFUL countryside, seaside towns and an above average standard of living are all good reasons for living in North Somerset.

But there is now something else residents in the district can also benefit from – cancer survival rates.

New figures released by the Office of National Statistics show the chances of surviving cancer a year after diagnosis for North Somerset patients is 68 per cent.

The survival rate is the second highest in the South West after Bournemouth and Poole and the seventh out of 151 health trust areas in the country.

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The highest is the affluent area of Hammersmith and Fulham at 70.3 per cent.

The statistics - the most recent available - are taken from 2006 and also show an improvement in survival rates in North Somerset from 62.7 per cent 10 years before.

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However, the good news in the region has flagged up concerns among cancer charity bosses of a north-south divide.

In areas such as Hartlepool in the North East, the chances of surviving a year after cancer diagnosis is just 60 per cent.

Head of statistical information at Cancer Research UK, Catherine Thomson, said: “This is one of the most detailed investigations so far to compare overall cancer survival rates across the whole of England.

“These figures are encouraging and reinforce previous ones showing that in general cancer survival rates have significantly improved over the past 40 years.

“But this study also flags up certain areas, particularly those in the North of England and those which are generally deprived, that are consistently falling short of the national average.”

Ms Thomson said she thought the reason behind the divide could be because people in poorer areas tend not to benefit from early diagnosis.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “Earlier diagnosis is crucial to this. Everyone should be alert to the signs and symptoms of cancer - such as weight loss, persistent pain and lumps and bumps and visit their GP immediately. Despite significant improvements in cancer survival rates across England, regional differences remain, national statistics show.”

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