The NHS cancer plan has improved survival rates in England but wide regional variations remain.

One year survival improved for most cancers in England and Wales between 1996 and 2006, according to a study by the Cancer Research UK survival group, published in the journal Lancet Oncology. Between 1996 and 2003, one year survival rates improved slightly faster in Wales than England. But after 2004, when England’s cancer plan came into force, its rates improved faster.

King’s Fund senior fellow Catherine Foot said the study was good news but more research was needed. “The new cancer reform strategy is driving further improvements for cancer patients, especially in services that have been relatively weak, such as early diagnosis and radiotherapy treatment, but there is still a great deal to be done,” she said.