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Opportunity to save lives lost following government U-turn on cancer

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Nikki Brady


Cancer will ‘become lost’ if government plans for a combined Major Conditions Strategy go ahead, Yorkshire Cancer Research has warned.

Couple holding hands in doctor's surgery

In a letter to Health Secretary Steve Barclay, the independent charity has called for the government to rethink its proposed approach to include all major long-term conditions, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia and mental health under one combined strategy.

Cancer is the largest cause of death in those under the age of 75 in Yorkshire, with the rate of death before this age being more than 1.5 times higher than for cardiovascular disease and nearly 3.5 times higher than for respiratory disease.

One year ago, former Health Secretary Sajid Javid marked World Cancer Day on February 4th by declaring a ‘war on cancer’ and calling for evidence to help underpin a ’10 Year Plan for Cancer’.

However, despite more than 5,000 pieces of evidence being submitted by patients, relatives and organisations, no further strategy has been announced or implemented.

Yorkshire Cancer Research is now urging the government to publish a personalised, unique, long-term strategy for cancer, where outcomes are monitored and tailored over time and the necessary investment and funding are provided so that England can see significant, meaningful improvements that save lives.

“These endless delays mean countless families have experienced the devastating impact of cancer. Without a dedicated plan, cancer will become lost amongst so many other complex and challenging conditions. England, and in particular Yorkshire, will fall further behind the European average for cancer survival and more lives will be lost needlessly.”

Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research

Since Sajid Javid declared his ‘war on cancer’ more than 30,000 people in Yorkshire have been diagnosed with the disease, and more than 13,000 families have lost a loved one.

Yorkshire Cancer Research is asking the government to:

  1. Invest in tackling the disparity gap: Yorkshire has higher rates of cancer incidence and mortality than most other areas in England so any strategy must consider equity, not just equality, as some regions will need a greater level of investment due to poorer health outcomes.
  2. Increase investment in prevention measures to help people avoid cancer in the first place, including implementing a strong Tobacco Control Plan to make the ambition of Smokefree 2030 a reality;
  3. Improve early diagnosis through greater access and participation in screening as well as innovative new tests for certain cancers, including the speedy adoption of the UK National Screening Committee’s recommendation to implement targeted lung cancer screening with integrated stop smoking service provision;
  4. Include a firm and funded commitment to Research & Development, to improve both the detection and treatment of cancer.
  5. Outline investment into the cancer workforce so services are fit for purpose in the future and account for increasing numbers of people with cancer.

Dr Scott added:

“England has an incredible opportunity to take decisive action now, to transform its approach towards cancer and offer a world-class service to increase the number of people surviving cancer.”

Read the full letter

Every 17 minutes someone is diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire

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