Governments across the UK have bold ambitions to improve cancer survival and transform patients’ quality of life for the 1 in 2 of us who will be diagnosed with the disease. Decades of hard work have resulted in cancer survival doubling over the last half a century – now half of people diagnosed with cancer live for 10 years or more. Progress has been made in recognising and addressing the wider support needs of people with cancer. Despite this, tragically, 165,000 people still die of cancer every year in this country and millions have their lives turned upside down by this unforgiving disease. With the number of people in the UK diagnosed with cancer expected to grow to over 500,000 per year by 2035, it’s critical that ambitions to transform cancer survival and patient experience turn into reality, quickly.
Undoubtedly the COVID-19 pandemic has made the challenge much harder. At the height of COVID-19 surges, thousands of people went undiagnosed, tests and treatments were disrupted, and cancer clinical trials were paused or slowed down. In some cases, this was because people did not access help for possible cancer symptoms. In other cases, changes to cancer services were made. Whatever the reason, the disruption is real, and thousands of people have been impacted.
2. Continue to encourage people with signs and symptoms of cancer to seek help from their GP
3. Expand the number of staff in key cancer professions
4. Drive earlier and faster diagnosis
5. Ensure personalised care and support for all
6. Strengthen the UK’s medical R&D base to accelerate improvements in cancer outcomes
7. Resource high quality end of life care
8. Be bolder in measures to prevent cancer by introducing measures quickly to restrict junk-food marketing on TV and online to reduce childhood obesity rates, implementing a Smoke-Free 2030 Fund to pay for measures to create a smoke-free UK, and increasing funding for local public health services
Watch a short video clip here:
Watch a BBC video about cancer services and the COVID-19 pandemic here