The number of women dying from breast cancer in the UK has fallen significantly since the 1980s
According to new figures, the death rate for breast cancer sufferers has fallen faster in the UK than in any other major European country.
Statistics analysed from 30 different countries show that the UK has seen a 35% reduction in breast cancer deaths since the 1980s, second only to Iceland.
Professor Valerie Beral and Richard Peto, from Oxford University, said: ‘In the UK, breast cancer is diagnosed earlier and treated more effectively than in the 1980s. Breast cancer mortality in middle-age has been falling steeply.’
In the 1980s England and Wales came bottom out of 30 countries analysed, but have now moved up to joint 22nd place with Northern Ireland, while Scotland holds 24th place.
The study, published online in the British Medical Journal, was led by a team at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France.
The authors concluded that the UK had some of the largest reduction rates recorded.
Professor Karol Sikora, one of the UK’s leading specialists in the field, said that the NHS breast cancer-screening programme has been a significant contributing factor to the falling death rate in the UK, which few other countries have copied.
Labour health spokesman, Andy Burham said: ‘These figures are a tribute to the fantastic work of the NHS clinicians and a sign that the last Labour government was right to invest to give them support.’
There are 44,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year in the UK and only 12,000 deaths.