Scots with six deadliest cancers have ‘disgraceful’ 12 per cent chance on average of living for five years

Posted on: 31st May 2017

Scots with the six less survivable cancers have a 55 per cent less chance on average of surviving beyond five years, compared with patients with one of the 14 more survivable cancers, a new analysis shows today (Wednesday, 31 May). Scots with the more survivable cancers have a 67 per cent chance on average of living beyond five years.

This shocking disparity has been revealed by the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce, on the day of its launch in Scotland before MSPs at Holyrood. Five charities have joined forces to transform the future for Scots with pancreatic, liver, brain, lung, oesophageal and stomach cancer, united in their determination to give patients a fair chance of living for longer.

The new analysis by the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce shows that the six less survivable cancers cause over half (54 per cent) of all deaths from common cancers in Scotland per year; causing close to 7,000 deaths.

The Taskforce, which is made up of Pancreatic Cancer UK, the British Liver Trust, The Brain Tumour Charity, Action Against Heartburn and Core, says that the unacceptable prognosis of the six cancers is due to a lack of research – over the last 12 years the six diseases received just 17 per cent of UK research funding for common cancers, with the remainder dedicated to the 14 more survivable common cancers - late diagnosis, a lack of treatment options and low awareness of symptoms.

The Taskforce will be a guiding light in driving forward change to ultimately give patients with the six diseases the same chance of surviving as those with the more survivable cancers, which include prostate, breast and bowel cancer.

MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw, Clare Adamson, is supporting the Taskforce. She said:

“It is absolutely disgraceful that in this day and age, Scots diagnosed with pancreatic, liver, brain, lung, oesophageal or stomach cancer still have only a 12 per cent chance on average of living beyond five years. In the last 40 years, the five-year survival rate has almost doubled for breast cancer and tripled for prostate cancer. Yet in the same period, there has been precious little progress for people with these six less survivable cancers.

“Now is the time to take action to transform the future for patients with these cancers and their families. Across Scotland, we will lead the way in bringing about long-overdue change. We must look to the breast cancer and prostate cancer movements, and emulate their incredible successes in increasing research funding, and improving diagnosis and treatment. I believe we must all support the Taskforce and play our part in creating a fairer chance of survival for patients with these six diseases.”

The Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce is now calling on MSPs, policy makers, research funders, GPs, nurses and other healthcare professionals, and patients and families alike to help it achieve its goal by:

  • Raising awareness of the symptoms of the six less survivable cancers
  • Increasing the number of people diagnosed at an early stage
  • Ensuring patients receive treatments swiftly
  • Ensuring patients have access to new treatments and clinical trials
  • Setting Government-backed targets to improve survival rates
  • Increasing research investment and encouraging more research funding applications from scientists

To get involved and for more information about the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce, visit