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Cancer Strategy must bring about progress for six deadliest cancers

Posted by: Policy and campaigning 22 February 2018

Ahead of a debate in the House of Commons on the progress of NHS England’s Achieving World-Class Cancer Outcomes: A Strategy for England 2015-2020, the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce is calling for urgent action to improve the chances of surviving pancreatic, liver, brain, lung, oesophageal and stomach cancer.

People with these forms of cancer in England are almost five times less likely to survive beyond five years, compared with patients with one of the 14 more survivable cancers. The six less survivable cancers combined cause almost half of all cancer deaths each year, causing close to 70,000 deaths.

The Taskforce, which is made up of Pancreatic Cancer UK, the British Liver Trust, The Brain Tumour Charity, Action Against Heartburn and Core, is now calling for the Cancer Strategy to ensure that the prognosis of these six cancers improves so that patients can live for longer.

Anna Jewell, chair of the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce, said: “Since the Cancer Strategy was introduced, we simply have not seen the progress for the less survivable cancers which we need. While survival for cancers overall is improving, we must all face the fact that at the same time, still just 38 per cent of people with these six cancers will survive beyond a year, compared with 84 per cent of patients with the more survivable cancers. Currently people with these six cancers simply do not have a fair chance of survival.

“We must now see a target for improving the survival of these cancers included in the Cancer Strategy – and to then achieve this target we must also see a far more focused plan for how to bring about change for people with the less survivable cancers. The Government must ensure that Cancer Alliances prioritise these cancers and introduce practices into their care pathways that will help improve survival and care. People with these six cancers deserve to live for longer, and we must now see decisive action which will transform the prognosis of these long-neglected cancers and change the future for everyone affected by them. Making this happen must become a priority today.”

The charities joined forces as the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce last July, united in their determination to give patients with the six cancers a fair chance of living for longer.

For more information, visit the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce website.