The Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stephens, has announced a plan to improve survival and quality of life for people with cancer. At the Britain Against Cancer conference in London (6th December), Simon Stephens also announced that survival rates are now at their highest ever. He said that NHS England is increasing efforts on early diagnosis and to help people live well with and beyond cancer, announcing the first wave of hospitals to benefit from an investment in NHS radiotherapy machines alongside £200m of funding over two years to improve local cancer services.
Responding to the announcement, Anna Jewell, Director of Operations at Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “It’s good news that action will be taken to improve the length of time people live after a cancer diagnosis, as well as the numbers diagnosed early, but it is vital that we specifically tackle cancers with the lowest survival rates, like pancreatic cancer. While survival rates for cancer overall are at their highest ever, precious little progress has been made for people with pancreatic cancer since the early 1970s, with just five per cent of patients living for five years or more after diagnosis in the UK.
"We must therefore focus on ways to ensure that more people are diagnosed earlier with pancreatic cancer. We welcome new initiatives such as referring patients to multidisciplinary clinics, where the disease can either be ruled out, or they can be referred to specialist treatment more quickly if needed. We must also urgently tackle the fact that patients still have very few treatment options, through more research as well as urgent reform of the way that cancer drugs are approved, so that new and effective treatments can be made available to patients. People with this tough disease simply must be given the chance of spending longer with their loved ones.”