Image courtesy of Jam Pond Photography @JamPond

The annual Cancer52 stakeholder briefing took place on 17th October, and Sharon Kell represented Kidney Cancer Support Network at the meeting. The keynote speaker was Cally Palmer, National Cancer Director, who gave an update on the accomplishments of the current cancer strategy and what to expect in the new NHS England Long Term Plan, 2020-2030.

Cancer survival has never been higher than it is today (1-year survival rates have risen from 61% to 72% for all cancers since 2000), but there is still more to do. NHS England needs to close the survival gap on the rest of the world. For some cancers (pancreas, lung, ovarian, brain, stomach) survival rates remain amongst the lowest in the world.

The Prime Minister announced at the beginning of October that NHS England needed “A step change in how we diagnose cancer.” The aim is to diagnose 75% of ALL cancers at an early stage (stage 1 and 2) and see 55,000 more people survive 5 years or more by 2028. As part of this initiative, NHS England has:

  • Reduced the age for bowel cancer screening from 60 to 50
  • Set-up rapid diagnostic centres for cancer across the country
  • Invested £130m in new scanning technology.


NHS England will ensure people will live longer after a cancer diagnosis by:

  • Diagnosing cancer earlier and faster
  • Ensuring every patient has optimal, personalised treatment, care and effective follow-up
  • Enabling research and innovation to ensure smarter and kinder diagnosis and treatment methods are developed and quickly adopted within the NHS.


These initiative will be enabled by accelerating what is known to work well, reducing health inequalities and variations, fostering collaboration across the NHS, academia and life sciences industry, and personalising cancer care.

For optimal treatment and care, the challenge is the immense speed of technological advance. For example, this year there are 70 new oncology drugs for more than 20 indications reaching the market, and this is set to rise to 110 by 2020.

Update on achievements so far

Access to care

The NHS is treating more cancer patients than ever before. This year (2018/19) has seen a step change in the number of cancer referrals across all cancer types, particularly urology (increase of 26% compared to last year). The NHS has responded with a significant growth in activity, for example the 62-day treatments have increased 12.5% in the same period. However, the NHS want to see more people with symptoms coming forward and being referred.

Early and faster diagnosis

To address early diagnosis, ten multidisciplinary diagnostic ‘one stop shops’ have been established across the country for rapid assessment and diagnosis of cancer, the faecal immunochemical test (FIT) is being rolled-out for bowel cancer screening this autumn, and a screening programme offering low dose lung CT scans is being launched.

Faster diagnosis is being addressed through the use of a new faster diagnosis standard (28 days to diagnosis), a new tracking system for cancer to enable data collection, and timed pathways for lung, colorectal and prostate cancer.

Treatment and care

To improve treatment and care of cancer patients, £130m has been used to modernise radiotherapy services and has funded 61 replacement LINAC machines and upgraded another 12 in 40 Trusts within NHS England.

The new Cancer Drugs Fund was rolled out in July 2016, and has funded access to the latest and most promising new treatments for 15,700 patients.

Since October 2018, NHS England is the first health service in the world to routinely offer genomic medicine, with hospital across England linked to specialist centres that read, interpret and analyse patient DNA.

The 19 Cancer Alliances across England are being funded to deliver personalised care and support and are developing a new world-leading quality of life metric. In total, over £72m was released to the Cancer Alliances in 2017/2018.

You can see Cally Palmer’s presentation here:

National Cancer Programme

Publication of the new Long Term Plan for NHS England is expected in December 2018, after which NHS staff, patients, and the public will have the opportunity to help their local NHS organisations implement the plan during the first half of next year. Kidney Cancer Support Network have already been consulted on what we would like to see in the Long Term Plan, the closing date for feedback being 30th September 2018. You can read our consultation document here:

KCSN consultation on the NHS long term plan

Cancer52 also submitted joint recommendations for the NHS England Long Term Plan, which was developed from feedback from 33 charities or patient groups representing people with rare and less common cancers. Their briefing document is a result of their wide-ranging consultation, which included a patient survey, a member charity survey, workshops and stakeholder interviews. You can read their briefing document here:

Getting a better deal for people with rare and less common cancers: the next ten years


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