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Cancer: Mortality Rate

Volume 470: debated on Monday 7 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health further to the statement in paragraph 1.4 of his Department's Cancer Reform Strategy on the fall in cancer mortality in under 75s between 1996 and 2005, what the drop in cancer mortality in people under 75 years was in the equivalent period before 1996; and how many lives were saved by the reduction in cancer mortality over this period. (174778)

[holding answer 17 December 2007]: “Lives saved” is an assessment of the cumulative effect of year on year reductions to the numbers of deaths in a specific age group and from a specific cause of death. In this case, it relates to deaths from cancer at ages under 75. It is calculated by subtracting from the number of deaths that occurred in the first year of the period, the number of deaths registered in each subsequent year, and then totalling the differences.

The cancer mortality target rate is calculated using three-year moving averages. In order to make concise statements, the three-year periods are sometimes referred to by the middle year of the period. This convention has been used in the first bullet point in paragraph 1.4 of the Cancer Reform Strategy. From the baseline in 1995-96-97 to the most recent period, 2004-05-06, the cancer mortality rate in people aged under 75 in England has fallen by over 17 per cent.

Lives saved are calculated using single year data. The middle year of the baseline period, 1996, is used as the baseline. Using single year data, to the most recent period, 2006, there were approximately 60,000 lives saved, compared to 1996.

The equivalent period before 1996 is 1985 to 1995. From 1984-85-86 to 1993-94-95 cancer mortality in people under age 75 in England fell by almost 10 per cent. With 1985 as the baseline, this equates to approximately 35,000 lives saved between 1985 and 1995.