This page is to help you understand the content of the 'Index of cancer survival' pages.

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These cancer survival estimates are an interactive presentation of the National Statistics publication "Index of cancer survival for Clinical Commissioning Groups in England: adults diagnosed 2002 to 2017 and followed up to 2018". The full release, with data tables and statistical commentary, is published here. National Statistics are a subset of official statistics, which have been certified by the UK Statistics Authority as compliant with its Code of Practice for Statistics.

For queries relating to this bulletin or to provide feedback, please contact us via email at ncrasenquiries@phe.gov.uk.

This content focuses on trends in the Index of cancer survival for adults (aged 15 to 99 years), for each of the 191 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), the 42 Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs), 20 Cancer Alliances (CAs) and for England as a whole:

  • Variation in survival by CCG in 2002 and 2017 for the index of cancer survival or one of breast, colorectal and lung cancer.
  • Trends of cancer survival between 2002 and 2017 in England and a selected comparator geographic area (from one of CCGs, CAs or STPs) for the index of cancer survival or one of breast, colorectal and lung cancer.
  • Trends of cancer survival between 2002 and 2017 for CCGs within a "parent" CA or STP for the index of cancer survival or one of breast, colorectal and lung cancer.

The data underlying each of these presentations can be downloaded and on the Data tab, the complete set of estimates can be downloaded.

The Index of cancer survival provides a convenient, single number that summarises the overall pattern of net cancer survival. It combines net survival estimates for breast cancer (women only), colorectal (bowel) cancer, lung cancer and other cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer and prostate cancer).

Separate net survival estimates for breast (women only), colorectal (bowel) and lung cancers are also presented in this publication. These estimates are age-standardised (breast cancer) or age-sex-standardised (colorectal and lung cancers).

Net survival is the survival of cancer patients compared with the expected survival of the general population.

In this publication, net survival is estimated using regression models based on adults who were diagnosed with cancer between 2002 and 2017, followed up to 31 December 2018. Interpretation should primarily focus on trends, rather than the survival estimate for a particular year. It may not be statistically appropriate to compare survival estimates across geographical areas.

Alternative sources of cancer information

The Cancer survival in England publication provides national estimates of adult cancer survival for 29 cancer sites, including survival by stage at diagnosis where possible, and cancer survival for children. The Geographic patterns of cancer survival in England publication provides estimates of cancer survival for 14 cancer sites for CAs and STPs. Information on the contents and uses of all the cancer publications can be found in the article: Cancer statistics explained: different data sources and when they should be used.

Data for this study is based on patient-level information collected by the NHS, as part of the care and support of cancer patients. The data is collated, maintained and quality assured by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service, which is part of Public Health England (PHE).




The charts here show how the variation of survival by CCG changes over time for the index of cancer survival, breast, colorectal (bowel) and lung cancers separately, which can be selected by choosing from the drop-down menu. The CCGs retain their colour coding from 2002 which is allocated depending on whether their survival was above or below the level of England at that time. The near-random pattern of the colour-coded CCGs in the 2017 data shows many of the CCGs which were below the level of England in 2002 are above the level of England in 2017.



Source: Public Health England - National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service


Hover over a plot for information about the data points. Click on the camera icon at the top of a plot to save the plot as a .png file.







Here you can choose to compare the trends in cancer survival in a geographical area of your choice with that of England.

The map shows the progression of cancer survival in your chosen geographical area with its neighbours for comparison, the chart shows the trend over the whole 16-year period for your chosen geographical area and England. If no geographical area is chosen, then the map shows the changes in cancer survival for the whole of England, partitioned by a type of geography (CCG, Cancer Alliance or STP); the chart will display the trend for England.

You can choose to study the trends of the index in cancer survival, breast, colorectal (bowel) or lung cancer and the survival displayed is standardised for age (all), sex (index, colorectal & lung only) and site (index only).

The map below may take a few moments to load before it appears


Click on the dropdown menus to select a tumour site, type of geography, and geographical area to view for which to view the data. The slider allows you to select a year. Clicking on the arrow beneath the right end of the slider animates the survival changes over time for the choice of site and area. Hover over the map to see the survival for particular areas. To move around the map, click on the map and use the arrow buttons. To reset the map, click on the 'Reset View' button in the top left corner.

Hover over the graph to see survival estimates for particular years. To zoom in on or out of the graph, click the plus or minus symbols at the top or draw a box within the graph to zoom in on that area. Clicking on the cross ('Pan') symbol allows you to move around the graph, and the magnifying glass returns to zoom mode. You can reset the axes using the house symbol or automatically scale them using the diagonal cross. Click on the camera symbol to save the plot as a .png file.





Here you can compare the trends of 1-year cancer survival for all the CCGs within either a Cancer Alliance or STP of your choice.

You can choose to study the trends of the index in cancer survival, breast, colorectal (bowel) or lung cancer and the survival displayed is standardised for age (all), sex (index, colorectal & lung only) and site (index only).

The chart below may take a few moments to load before it appears




Please note that the y-axis for this graph does not start at 0 and varies to automatically select a good range for comparing survival trends among the selected areas.

Hover over the graph to see survival estimates for the selected areas for particular years. To zoom in on or out of the graph, click the plus or minus symbols at the top or draw a box within the graph to zoom in on that area. Clicking on the cross ('Pan') symbol allows you to move around the graph, and the magnifying glass returns to zoom mode. You can reset the axes using the house symbol or automatically scale them using the diagonal cross. Click on the camera symbol to save the plot as a .png file.





The complete set of survival results that was used to produce the National Statistics release "Index of cancer survival for Clinical Commissioning Groups in England: adults diagnosed 2002 to 2017 and followed up to 2018" is available to download here.

This OpenDocument Spreadsheet file format is readable by standard business software, including free opensource packages.



This page is to help you better understand the technical side of the "Index of cancer survival" content.

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Research on population-based cancer survival trends in England and Wales found that for most cancers, survival is either stable or rising steadily from year to year. This trend is reflected in the index of cancer survival. The index is designed to reflect real progress in cancer outcomes by long-term monitoring of progress in overall cancer survival. It provides a summary measure of cancer survival that takes account of shifts in the pattern of cancers in a given geography.

The index of cancer survival can be compared over time, because it is adjusted for any changes in the profile of cancer patients by age, sex or type of cancer. This adjustment is necessary because survival varies widely by all three factors meaning that, without standardisation, changes in survival could result from changes in the profile of cancer patients, even if survival at each age, for each cancer and in each sex did not change.

All adults (aged 15 to 99 years) who were diagnosed with a first, primary, invasive malignancy were eligible for inclusion. Patients diagnosed with malignancy of the skin other than melanoma were excluded. Cancer of the prostate was also excluded from the index, because the widespread introduction of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing since the early 1990s has led to difficulty in the interpretation of survival trends, as explained in Excess cases of prostate cancer and estimated over diagnosis associated with PSA testing in East Anglia.

It was sometimes impossible to produce robust estimates of survival for one or more of the age groups, most often because of the relatively small number of patients diagnosed in the age group 15 to 44 years. In this situation, the missing value for a CCG is replaced by the corresponding value for their "parent" Cancer Alliance (CA) or, if that is also missing, the missing value for both the CCG and CA is replaced by the value for England. Similarly, any missing values for Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) are replaced by the value for England.

Substituted values are identified in the data tables containing the complete data in the column "Substituted by Parent Geography" and a full commentary is available in the full release.

More information on methodology can be found in the Quality and Methodology Information report, which also contains important information on:

  • the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data
  • uses and users of the data
  • how the output was created
  • the quality of the output including the accuracy of the data