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Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer early can expect to live for longer than those without the disease, new figures show.

Those diagnosed at stage one had survival rates that were 0.5 per cent higher than those of the general population.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer and all adults with skin cancer have the same chance of being alive a year later if the disease is caught at the earliest opportunity, the data shows.

Experts suggest that early diagnoses – which are easiest to treat – can also prompt people to adopt healthier lifestyles.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures are the first detailed estimates to show how the survival rates for a number of cancers vary, depending on the stage it is diagnosed.

Official data shows that of the 200,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer between 2012-2016, 30 per cent were diagnosed at stage one, compared to 19 per cent at stage two and around 18 per cent at stages three and four.

Survival rates for the stages one and two a year later were more than 100 per cent, meaning that fewer men with prostate cancer died than expected when compared with the general population.

Even 5-year survival estimates were over 100 per cent for stages 1 and 2, with good survival at stage 3 at 96.5 per cent and a larger drop at stage 4 to 47.7 per cent, highlighting the importance of early diagnosis.

Earlier diagnosis for prostate cancer and breakthroughs in treatment for advanced disease have seen overall survival across all stages of the disease rise from 80.2 per cent in 2006 to 87.1 per cent.

Karen Stalbow, of Prostate Cancer UK, said: ‘The fact that the survival chances for men diagnosed with localised prostate cancer appear to be even higher than men without a diagnosis is certainly positive, and may also indicate that a diagnosis can lead to increased personal health monitoring and healthier behaviours post diagnosis.

‘Nearly 40 per cent of cases of the disease are still only caught at a late stage when the chances of living for five or ten-years are greatly reduced.

‘Overall, we need to find better diagnostic tools to catch more prostate cancers early, and determine which cancers are aggressive and which are not.’

Cancer survival rates show ‘little evidence of improvement’ as the number dying from bladder and colon tumours is rising .

But survival rates for other types of cancer England are slow to improve and in some cases getting worse, statistics revealed.

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Deaths rates rose for bladder, colon and late stage breast cancers between 2015 and 2016.

Not enough is being done to protect people from common cancers, campaigners warn, saying the diseases are only seeing slow improvements.

The most deadly cancers are those of the pancreas, liver, brain and lungs, with nine out of 10 women dying within five years of being diagnosed with a pancreatic tumour.

And for men a tumour on the pancreas proves fatal within five years in 93.6 per cent of cases.

Macmillan Cancer Support, one of the UK’s biggest cancer charities, raised concerns about improvements in the figures for common cancers being slow.

Five-year survival for breast cancer – at 85.3 per cent – has risen by 0.3 per cent on the previous year but is still lower than it was in 2013, when it was 85.6 per cent.

The one-year survival rate for bladder cancer also dropped – from 75 per cent to 74.8 per cent.

‘It’s concerning to see that five-year survival rates for some of the most common cancers show little evidence of improvement in recent years,’ said Dr Fran Woodward, Macmillan’s executive director of policy and impact.

‘We were encouraged to see the emphasis on improvements in cancer care in the recent Long-Term Plan for the NHS in England.

‘And today’s news shows the scale of the challenge and the urgent need for a fully funded workforce strategy to meet the ambition of getting cancer outcomes here to be the best in the world.’

Cancer survival rates in the UK are among the worst in Europe – something which has been blamed partly on delays to diagnosis.

But survival rates for women diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer have dropped, provoking reaction from the charity Breast Cancer Now.

Policy manager Sally Greenbrook said: ‘These figures show just how important early detection is in giving breast cancer patients the best chance of survival.

‘But the sharp decline in survival outcomes when breast cancer is diagnosed later is extremely worrying and shows just how much more there is to do on metastatic breast cancer.

‘If we are to finally stop more women dying from breast cancer, we urgently need to find ways to stop the disease spreading, and to treat it effectively when it does.

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