Over a third of cancer patients in Medway die within a year of diagnosis, according to a report released by a leading cancer charity.
The research, published by Macmillan Cancer Support, reveals nearly 40% of people living in Medway die within 12 months of being diagnosed with cancer.
In Medway, the figure is 37%, much higher than the best performing areas in England where 24% of cancer patients die within 12 months of diagnosis.
Health chiefs admitted more could be done and blamed lifestyle - choices such as poor diet, smoking and drinking - for increasing people’s cancer risk.
Macmillan branded the high death rates “unacceptable” and blamed a failure to diagnose and treat patients quickly enough.
Carol Fenton, Macmillan’s manager for the south east, said: “Your chances of surviving cancer should not be affected simply because of where you live.”
Cancer is the leading cause of premature death for both men and women in Medway, accounting for almost half of deaths in women and a third of deaths in men.
The government’s target states 85% of cancer patients should be treated within 62 days of being referred by their GP.
Medway Foundation Trust said Medway Hospital has met its cancer treatment target for the last year.
NHS Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said cancer was a “priority action area”.
Dr Peter Green, chief clinical officer for Medway CCG, said: “Macmillan Cancer Support is absolutely right to highlight variations in cancer survival as this clearly demonstrates that more can be done.
“Raising the profile of cancer and encouraging people to look out for symptoms and seek a diagnosis earlier is one of our top priorities.
“We’re also encouraging and supporting people to live healthier lifestyles which helps people to improve their chances of not getting cancer and to live longer.
“People can decrease their risk of developing cancer by making healthier lifestyle choices.
Medway, Swale and Thanet have a higher percentage of smokers than the national average and obesity rates have risen over recent years in all three areas.
Tristan Osborne, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Chatham is currently mid-way through a NHS survey of residents across Medway and Aylesford.
Mr Osborne, who is also a local councillor for Luton and Wayfield, said: “The statistics on cancer treatment and mortality make sobering reading for residents and reflect my concern that the NHS is struggling under this Tory-led government.
“A fast diagnosis followed by timely and effective treatment is a big part in the fight against cancer.”
“The postcode lottery is unfair. It contradicts the founding principles of the NHS. We all pay national insurance and taxes on the same terms, no matter where we live, and we all have a right to NHS treatment on equal terms.”
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