Cancer survival predicted by postcode, warns charity

A cancer survival gap is growing between people living in the most and least deprived parts of Scotland, a charity has warned. Analysis of survival rates for six common cancers found wide variations depending on where patients lived. Macmillan Cancer Support said there needed to be a major step-up in cancer screening in deprived areas. The Scottish government said it recognised the need to tackle such variations. The charity used data from the Information Services Division, part of NHS Scotland which specialises in health statistics.  The analysis examined the survival rate of patients diagnosed between 2004 and 2008 and followed them for five years up to 2013, to reveal the increased risk of death for patients living in deprived areas, compared with affluent areas: Lung cancer patients faced poor outcomes regardless of their socioeconomic status, the charity found. The study found lower rates of screening uptake and lower rates of treatment in deprived communities, while surgery was found to have had the most influence on survival.  This suggested those from deprived communities were less likely to receive surgery, possibly because of having more advanced cancer or poorer overall health, the charity said. Janice Preston, head of Macmillan in Scotland, said: “It’s completely unacceptable that someone’s chances of surviving cancer could be predicted by their postcode. “This new research gives us an up-to-date and in-depth understanding of the scale of the cancer survival gap in Scotland. “It also provides the most comprehensive ever look at the reasons behind it. While the sheer number of factors that impact on survival means there is no magic bullet to solving this problem, this research points to clear areas for improvements, including encouraging earlier diagnosis and the take-up of screening in deprived areas.” Labour’s health spokesman Anas Sarwar described the charity’s report as “grim and deeply concerning”.He said: “We already know that a person is less likely to get diagnosed and less likely to survive cancer if they come from a poorer background. “In Scotland, we are seeing the health inequality gap widen not narrow under the SNP government. “This follows on from official figures which showed that cancer screening rates are going backwards in the poorest communities too.”

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