London: Britain has the worst cancer survival rate in western Europe, according to the largest ever study of the disease.
The Eurocare study, published in the European Journal of Cancer, examined patient survival for all common cancers.
The study of over 20 million cancer patients found survival in Britain is worse than every country in western Europe, The Telegraph reported.
The report, presented to the European Cancer Congress in Vienna, compared overall survival across a host of different types of cancers.
It shows that despite investment in attempts to diagnose cases earlier and speed up access to treatment, there has been no narrowing of the gap between Britain and other developed nations.
Experts said the major differences reflected poor rates of early diagnosis in this country, with one in five cancers not spotted until a patient arrives at Accident and Emergency departments.
Lead researcher Milena Sant said delays in referrals in the UK were a major cause of late diagnosis, impacting survival.
Rosie Loftus, joint chief medical officer at Macmillan Cancer Support said, "It is disappointing that Britain's survival rates continue to lag behind the rest of Europe.
"The reasons for this are complex but it is vital people know the signs and symptoms so that cancer can be caught early on and treated effectively."
The data, the latest Europe-wide statistics available, covering those diagnosed up to 2007, shows five year survival in England at 50.2 percent.
Countries such as France, Italy, and Germany all did far better than Britain.