Survival rates for most cancers have improved in England between 1999 and 2004, new figures have revealed.
Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that there have been improvements in survival for breast, prostate, bowel and lung cancer during the period, a finding that eases concerns over separate new figures from a Europe-wide survey which suggested the UK was lagging behind the rest of Europe in terms of cancer survival.
However, experts have pointed out that much of the data used to compile the Europe-wide report were collected prior to the introduction of the Cancer Plan in 2000, a policy that has been accompanied by significant investment in cancer treatment.
Ruth Yates, Cancer Research UK's head of statistical information, said of the ONS figures: "An increase in the proportion of patients surviving beyond five years for 19 of the 21 most common cancers is very encouraging news.
"Around half of newly-diagnosed patients currently live for at least five years and these latest findings highlight the progress we are making against the disease."
However, she noted that there is no room for complacency and said that it is "vitally important" that we continue to find new cancer treatments.
Independent advice on private healthcare