Action call to tackle inequalities in region’s cancer death rates

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DEATH rates from cancer have dramatically fallen but huge variations remain across the region, new figures reveal.

Deaths rates among under-75s fell by 14.7 per cent in the decade to 2013 in England but the reduction has not been seen across the country - and in some cases mortality has risen.

Fatalities from the country’s biggest killer remain higher in the North, triggering calls last night for action to tackle inequalities.

Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show death rates from the illness fell 31.7 per cent in Ryedale from 2003-2013, among the top 10 performances in 326 council areas in the country.

But the reduction was just 3.7 per cent in Hull, 5.2 per cent in Sheffield, 5.3 per cent in Selby and 6.5 per cent in Bradford.

In 2013, the highest death rate in the region in Hull was nearly 70 per cent above the lowest in Harrogate and was the sixth highest in the country at 190.2 deaths for every 100,000 people.

In Copeland in Cumbria, death rates rose by 29.5 per cent over the period compared with a 39.1 per cent fall in Spelthorne in Surrey, indicating the scale of disparities across the country.

Clusters of areas with high death rates were found in the North West, North East, West Midlands and Thames Estuary.

Overall, for every 100,000 people in England aged 74 and younger, 142 died from cancer in 2013 compared with 166 a decade earlier amid further evidence huge investment in NHS cancer services is paying dividends.

The charity Yorkshire Cancer Research has announced investment of £5 million in work to tackle outcomes, which see more than 1,000 more people die of cancer in the region than the national average.

Its chief executive officer Charles Rowett said cancer inequalities in Yorkshire “must be tackled as a matter of priority”.

“While the figures show a fall in the cancer death rate, they also provide evidence of the huge variation in outcomes across the county,” he said.

“Much more investment is essential in ensuring that all people, no matter where they live, have the best possible chance of survival if they are diagnosed with cancer.

“The number of requests we have received for projects in Yorkshire has really highlighted the unmet need for improved education and awareness of symptoms, access to the very best treatments, improvements in screening and better care.”

Tom Stansfeld, of Cancer Research UK, said there was a “disproportionate” number of people dying from cancer in the North.

“Although we don’t know for sure the reason behind this, higher levels of smoking, or other lifestyle choices, may be playing a part,” he said.

“Opting for pints and pies over healthier choices puts people at higher risk of health problems including cancer.”

Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, keeping active and cutting back on alcohol also helped lower risks, he added.

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