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Update of life tables used to measure background mortality

Survival analysis involves comparing the survival of patients with cancer with background mortality (the survival of the general population). Background mortality is derived from population life tables, which are broken down by single year of age (0 to 99 years), sex, quintile of the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) and region.

It is important to use up-to-date life tables that reflect changes in the population. Public Health England (PHE) has created these tables to use in calculating cancer survival. PHE currently produces life tables by single year of age at a national level and life tables by age group at a sub-national level. For cancer survival analysis, PHE have created life tables which look at single year of age at a sub-national level, for 2001 to 2003 onwards. Smoothing has been applied to the life tables to overcome issues around high volatility and risk of disclosure. The method for producing these life tables is the same as those we published with ONS.

The life tables published by ONS were used for calculating cancer survival for publications from cancer survival for 2006 to 2010 diagnoses followed-up to 2011 to cancer survival for 2013 to 2017 diagnoses followed-up to 2018, inclusive. We will publish updated lifetables annually to support future cancer survival analyses.

To find a region using the region code, visit