Thousands of cancer patients aged over 75 are dying sooner than they should, it was reported today.
Research by the National Cancer Intelligence Network suggests up to 15,000 people a year are not living as long as they might after developing cancer.
Cancer survival rates in the UK are lower than in western Europe and the US with one possible explanation being that people in the UK are diagnosed later.
Survival rates are calculated on the number of people alive five years after diagnosis.
Dr Tony Moran, from the North West Cancer Intelligence Service, said if the UK was performing as well as western Europe in the 75-84 age group, and as well as the US in the 85 and over group, there would be 15,000 fewer cancer deaths every year.
He told the BBC: "The point is we don't know why this is happening.
"Elderly cancer survival is an area which has been grossly neglected. It is crying out for research."