A POSTCODE lottery in cancer care is splitting England.
Treatments for cancer around the country can vary markedly depending on where people live, a report said today.
Delays in diagnosing the disease are also lowering patients' chances of survival.
But patients in Huddersfield have been given reassurances.
A spokesman for the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust said: "The Trust is meeting all national targets for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
"We continually strive to offer the best standards of care to all our patients."
While much has been done by the NHS and Department of Health to cut deaths from cancer, the National Audit Office said, more could still be done to treat patients swiftly.
The NAO outlined differences in death rates between rich and poor areas as well as the `postcode lottery' of treatments available to patients depending on where they live.
Nationally, the volume of cancer cases has increased by 31% since 1970.
That rise is largely due to smoking, particularly by women, and excessive exposure to sun.
The fact that people are living longer has also radically influenced the total number of cases.
However, over that period, survival rates have improved by 12% because of better breast and prostate cancer treatments.
The NAO found death rates varied around the country with lower chances of survival in areas of urban and rural deprivation.
Generally, the figures show London and the South fair better than the northern England.
Shortages of specialist staff are adding to delays in patients being assessed quickly and receiving treatment.
And GPs should have better guidance on referring patients to give them the best chance of early treatment.
The public are also being urged to visit their doctor sooner if they have suspicious symptoms.
While England's cancer survival rate compares with France, Germany and Spain, it lags behind Sweden and the Netherlands.
Cancer Tsar professor Mike Richards is now carrying out a review of every region of the NHS to ensure treatments get through to patients.
Edward Leigh, chairman of the Public Account Committee, said the report "depressingly" confirmed the existence of a cancer health divide.
"Those on the wrong side of it are likely to live in areas of higher deprivation which have higher rates of incidence of cancer and of death from the disease," he said.