Cancer survival rates in England have remained static, new figures reveal. But wide variations still exist between five-year survival rates for different types of cancer, according to Office for National Statistics data for 2005 - the latest available.

Ninety-six per cent of men diagnosed in England in 2000 with testicular cancer survived five years, as did 81 per cent of women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Survival rates for those diagnosed in 1999 were also 96 per cent and 81 per cent respectively.

Five-year survival from lung cancer for patients diagnosed in 2000 was 7 per cent for men and 8 per cent for women, also unchanged from 1999.

Cancer Research UK head of policy Catherine Foot said the Department of Health's NHS cancer plan, published in 2000, had led to "real improvements" in cancer treatment, including reduced waiting times, more specialist surgery and more cancer doctors.

Improving survival

"All these things as well as reductions in smoking rates and better access to new cancer medicines will lead to improvements in cancer survival five years after diagnosis.

"But this takes time to be seen in the statistics," she said.

"Over the next few years, it is absolutely essential that the NHS focuses on improving the early detection of cancer, as we believe that diagnosing more patients earlier could significantly improve overall cancer survival."