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We respond to the Independent Cancer Taskforce's new report

Posted by: Research 20 July 2015

The Independent Cancer Taskforce’s report published yesterday (Sunday July 19th) says that an extra 30,000 cancer patients a year in England could survive for ten years or more by 2020 if its recommendations are followed.

The report, ‘Achieving world class cancer outcomes: A Strategy for England 2015 – 2020’, says that 11,000 of those patients would survive due to being diagnosed earlier. The report says the six strategic priorities for the NHS over the next five years should be:

•             To spearhead a radical upgrade in prevention and public health

•             Drive a national ambition to achieve earlier diagnosis

•             Establish patient experience as being on a par with clinical effectiveness and safety

•             Transform our approach to support people living with and beyond cancer

•             Make the necessary investments required to deliver a modern, high quality service

•             Overhaul processes for commissioning, accountability and provision

Commenting on the report, Alex Ford, Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK, said:

 “There is plenty to offer hope to people with pancreatic cancer and their families in England in this new cancer strategy, particularly plans to increase the number of people diagnosed earlier, and improvements to care and support. However, urgent action must now be taken to tackle cancers with the lowest survival rates. Pancreatic cancer has the worst survival rate of all 21 common cancers, with less than four per cent of people living for five or more years following diagnosis, and this has hardly improved since the early 1970s. We simply must not be in this dire state of affairs in five years’ time.

“The strategy also says we need a new effective approval system put in place for cancer drugs in the long term. That is absolutely true, but in the short term it is imperative that people with advanced pancreatic cancer have access to the life-extending drug Abraxane on the NHS. This means it is vital it remains on the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), as this is currently the only way that patients in England can access it. It is possible that Abraxane and other drugs will be removed from the CDF before the month is out. So we urge the panel deciding on the drug’s future the week after next to keep it available for patients free of charge on the NHS.”

When used in combination with standard chemotherapy, Abraxane can allow people with advanced pancreatic cancer to live an extra two months on average, and sometimes much longer. To find out more about pancreatic cancer and Abraxane, visit: http://www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk/abraxane