At the Conservative party conference this week, UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced a new cancer strategy for the country with the major focus on early cancer detection to improve cancer survival and bring it more into line with other developed nations. She indicated that cancer will form a central part of the new long-term plan for the NHS and that the key to boosting chances of surviving cancer is early diagnosis and she pledged to increase the early detection rate from one-in-two today, to three-in-four by 2028.
She indicated that the bowel cancer screening age will be lowered from 60 to 50 and that there will be investment in state-of-the-art scanners and more Rapid Diagnostic Centres that will help people to access treatment more quickly. She concluded that this will mean a step-change in how we diagnose cancer so that by 2028, 55,000 more people will be alive 5 years after their diagnosis compared to today.
CRUK responded to this announcement saying: Cancer Research UK welcomes the Prime Minister’s ambition to transform cancer survival for patients through early diagnosis: an ambition that we share. But, the scale of the challenge is substantial and must now be reflected in Government action. Significant investment in NHS staff who diagnose and treat cancer patients will be fundamental, as will continued research into new diagnostic tests.
We know that one in two people will be diagnosed with cancer and more than 500,000 people in the UK are on course to develop the disease each year by 2035 – the equivalent of one person every minute. But cancer survival in this country currently lags behind the world’s best and, while survival has been improving, we need to at least double the rate of progress to catch up.
We need to see this announcement, and the NHS 10 year plan, backed with a long term cancer workforce plan and associated investment. Otherwise the Government, and future governments, will simply not be able to fulfil this commitment to patients.