England has failed to stop the gap on the nations that perform best in cancer care despite 20 years of trying, analysis suggests.
The Health Organization review reported the government record between 1995 and 2015, despite four strategies that set ambitious goals, the NHS was still at the best.
He said that if services were being improved, 10,000 lives could be saved annually.
Earlier diagnosis was a key, he said.
Professor Syr Mike Richards, before the government cancer tsar warned the review, that patients found it too difficult to access the tests and scans.
"Although progress has been made, the goals of all these strategies have not been completed."
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He said that the number of opportunities lost to save lives is the equivalent of "jumbo jets of people who fall down on the sky every fortnight".
Only a month after the prime minister promised to make an early diagnosis of cancer a key priority for NHS spending in the coming years.
Cancer waiting times at the worst level ever & # 39;
How far behind is the NHS?
Survival rates are improving. Back in 2000, 62% of patients survived for at least one year. By 2015, this proportion had risen to 72%.
Meanwhile, a five-year survival has risen from 42% to 53%.
But other nations have also improved. The Health Organization highlighted the UK performance against five other countries – Canada, Australia, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
This was done for six key cancer – colon, rectum, breast, lungs, ovaries and prostate.
For each, the UK has remained in both bottom since 2000 for a five-year survival. Only the breast can close the space with the best.
The thought tank figures that show 10,000 deaths could be prevented each year with a better diagnosis. That represents one in 13 deaths of the disease.
What is the problem?
Sir Mike talks about the "tightening gates" in the NHS.
He said that GPs were under pressure not to refer too many patients, while the NHS did not have enough equipment or staff to do all the tests and scans should ideally be.
Tackling this would require a big investment, the report said.
GPs refer almost two million patients a year for emergency tests and scans – almost four times the number they did over a decade ago.
But the increase in referrals has been in line with long waiting times, with the NHS now struggling to reach its targets.
And while the additional numbers are being referred, one in five cases is still diagnosed through an emergency presentation in places such as accident and emergency units.
Patients diagnosed through this route are less likely to survive as the cancer has diagnosed it late.
Sir Mike said that services have also been undermined by the Health and Care Act 2012, which led to specialized regional cancer groups being abolished as part of the wider stimulus of the health service.
He said that this has provoked many experienced professionals to leave the NHS.
What does the government do?
Sir Mike welcomed the fact that the government had pledged additional money – an additional £ 20 billion per year by 2023 – and cancer would be a key focus for that.
Last month, the prime minister promised a new strategy to ensure that three-quarters of cancer are diagnosed early – only half is currently.
The NHS of England is already piloting rapid diagnostic clinics. These are basically one-stop testing centers where patients can often access a range of different specialists and procedures on the same day.
Sir Mike said that these actions would help.
He also called for more to do to raise public awareness of the signs and symptoms to look for – research shows that people in the UK are sometimes reluctant to come forward when they are show signs of cancer.
And he said the NHS needs to look at new methods, suggesting research showing that people with high risk of lung cancer can benefit from a new screening of the disease using low dose CT scans.
The Department of Health and Social Care reported that improving the early diagnosis was a "key priority", stating out next year that a new 28-day target for diagnosis would be introduced.
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