Background: Stage at diagnosis is a key predictor of overall cancer outcome. For the first time, stage completeness is high enough for robust analysis for the whole of England.
Methods: We analysed data from the National Cancer Registration Service's (NCRS) Cancer Analysis System on persons diagnosed with breast, colorectal, lung, prostate or ovarian cancers in England in 2012. One-year relative survival (followed-up to the end of 2013) was calculated along with adjusted excess rate ratios, for mortality within 1 year.
Results: One-year relative survival decreased with increasing stage at diagnosis. For breast, prostate and colorectal cancers survival showed a major reduction for stage 4 cancers, whereas for lung and ovarian cancers there were substantial decreases in relative survival for each level of increase in stage. Excess rate ratios for mortality within 1 year of diagnosis showed that stage and age were the most important cofactors, but they also identified the statistically significant effects of sex, income deprivation and geographic area of residence.
Conclusions: Further reductions in mortality may be most effectively achieved by diagnosing all cancers before they progress to stage 4, but for lung and ovarian cancers there is also a need for a stage shift to earlier stages together with efforts to improve stage-specific survival at all stages.