Cancers with the highest death rates often don’t have easily recognisable symptoms and awareness of them tends to be low. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 67,000 deaths a year in the UK were caused by lung, liver, brain, stomach, pancreatic and oesophageal cancer. That’s around 50% of all cancer deaths.
One third of patients with a less survivable cancer will only be diagnosed after an emergency admission to hospital after symptoms have become more severe and the prospect of recovery lower.
That, in part, accounts for the catastrophically low average five-year survival rate of just 16% for such cancers. For other common cancers, the proportion diagnosed at such a late stage is just 15% and the average five-year survival rate is markedly higher at 69%.