Survival rates for the four most common cancers in England have improved, according to a round-up from the Office for National Statistics.

More people with breast, colon, lung and prostate cancer are surviving into a fifth year if diagnosed between 2003 and 2007 than if they were diagnosed between 2001 and 2006.

The most marked improvement was seen in cases of men with prostate cancer (2.7 per cent), people with colon cancer (1.5 per cent) and women with breast cancer (1.3 per cent). The improvement was smaller in cases of lung cancer (0.4 per cent), which is often diagnosed in the later stages.

Several other cancers monitored over the same period also showed increased survival rates.

The largest increase in five-year survival between 2001-2006 to 2003-2007 was 3.5 per cent for men diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (from 54.7 per cent to 58.2 per cent) and 3.4 per cent for myeloma (from 30.1 per cent to 33.5 per cent).

Myeloma also showed the largest increase (2.8 per cent) in survival for women (from 29.9 per cent to 32.7 per cent).

More men survived testicular cancer than any other cancer (96.2 per cent) while more women survived malignant melanoma (90.1 per cent).

The lowest five-year survival in both sexes was for pancreatic cancer: 3.1 per cent in men and 3.3 per cent in women.

Ciaran Devane, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “The next government needs to ensure all cancer patients have the support they need to manage the long term effects of cancer treatment.

“The current NHS follow-up service is costly and ineffective and must be replaced.”