Cancer survival rates in England need to match the best in Europe to cut costs and avoid a near £25bn annual bill over the next decade, a new report has suggested.
Currently, the disease costs around £18bn a year, made up of £5bn in NHS costs, and lost productivity due to illness and premature deaths amount to almost £13bn in England alone, according to research.
By 2020, cancer costs are likely to reach £24.72bn, the report published by the centre-right think tank Policy Exchange said, of which £6bn will include NHS costs and more than £18bn in lost productivity.
The UK's death rate is still about 6% more than advanced European countries, although this is falling, but if survival rates improved to European standards, the cost of cancer could be cut by £10bn in the next 10 years, the study added.
The report blames late diagnosis, poor survival rates for older people and those in deprived communities, as well as relatively poor take-up of new treatments as the most likely reasons for the higher death rate.
Meanwhile, spending on cancer medicines is only about 60% of that in other advanced European countries.