In a new report released today (Friday) cancer experts and health professionals outline the importance of cancer plans and reveal the gains and gaps between the different nations’ cancer care.
In the first report of its kind, Cancer Research UK interviewed cancer experts, including oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, nurses and GPs as well as policy experts, academics, cancer network staff and senior managers in the health service to assess the progress made in cancer care.
The interviews form part of a review to compare the cancer strategies of all four UK nations and examine what improvements have been made and identify the gaps between the different nations’ cancer care.
The research highlights that cancer plans have helped improve patient outcomes. Matching the best outcomes in the world can only come about if comprehensive cancer plans are maintained and fully implemented.
A key concern for all health services is that as the population ages more people will be diagnosed with cancer. Planning is needed to ensure the extra demand can be coped with.
Those interviewed identified England and Scotland as each having seen improvements under their cancer plans. There has been progress on cancer prevention, in the development of new treatments and patients have benefited from more standard care.
The report welcomes the announcement by the coalition government to review the England strategy.
The report also shows that health professionals believe the Welsh Assembly Government needs to urgently review their plan. The current plan needs to be more comprehensive and given a higher priority by the health service.
The Northern Ireland executive is due to publish a cancer plan. Delays have meant that a clear strategy to deliver cancer services is still to be released to allow health professionals to plan for the future.
Another recommendation is to further prioritise the early diagnosis of cancer. When cancer is diagnosed at an early stage treatment is often simpler and more likely to be effective. Improving awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer and building on the success of the cancer screening programme are key to success.
The full report makes 49 recommendations that need to be addressed in future cancer plans.
Professor Jeffrey Tobias, one of the authors of the report and a professor of cancer medicine at University College London, said: “Our research with health professionals and policy makers shows they believe cancer services have improved with the help of cancer plans but there is clearly more that needs to be done. Cancer plans can be important and useful. They help set direction and make the best use of resources to reduce cancer incidence and mortality. We urge all UK governments to focus on their cancer plans in order to help ensure that all cancer services are world class.”
For more information contact the Cancer Research UK press officer on 020 7061 8300, or the out of hours duty press officer on 07050 264 059.