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Let's beat cancer sooner

It’s been a year of big announcements and surprises in the world of politics and policy. Here are just 7 of the key moments that have defined cancer policy this year.

1. Brexit

Since the EU referendum on 23rd June, we’ve been working to get the best deal for patients and researchers as the UK makes plans to leave the EU.

Following the referendum it’s been all change in Westminster too. David Cameron stood down as Prime Minister paving the way for Theresa May. Since then, we’ve been busy building relationships with May’s new government, the new shadow cabinet and other key MPs.

2. More money for Radiotherapy

We were delighted when NHS England announced £130 million investment into new radiotherapy machines over the next 2 years. We’ve been making the case for new radiotherapy machines for years, and it was key recommendation in the cancer strategy for England, so this really was great news for patients.

3. Cancer waiting times missed again

Back in October, the latest figures on how long patients are waiting for treatment in England were released. And, as with the previous two years, the results were worrying. Across all nations in the UK, cancer waiting times are consistently being missed.

One of the reasons for this is that the NHS services carrying out the scans, procedures, and lab tests involved in diagnosis are struggling to keep up with demand. Government needs to invest in the cancer workforce to ensure it’s fit for the future. And we’re waiting for Health Education England – which is responsible for training the healthcare workforce in England – to set out its plan for staffing cancer services.

4. Research funding

Last month the Government committed to spending an extra £2 billion per year by 2020 on research and development, which was great news. It’s a spending increase of around 20%. So we’ll be keeping an eye on how this extra funding to spent. But it’s encouraging to see that science is a priority for the Government.

5. Cancer strategies

Cancer plans have been published in both Scotland and Wales this year. In Scotland, we provided expert input to the Government to develop the strategy, which has real potential to help patients. We blogged about our thoughts on this when it was published.

In Wales, although the strategy has some positives, it could have been much more ambitious. We’re working with the Welsh government to make sure the strategy is the best it can be for patients in Wales.

Northern Ireland is yet to develop a new cancer strategy, something that is desperately needed (it last published one in 2008). We’ll continue to call on the Northern Ireland Assembly to develop plans for cancer as soon as possible.

And in England, last year’s cancer strategy was followed by the publication of the Implementation Plan explaining how the strategy’s recommendations will be made a reality. This needs to happen quickly to help cancer services across the country. The £200m of funding from NHS England to help improve care and earlier diagnosis of cancer was a welcome start.

6. New screening tests for bowel and cervical screening

This year, it was announced that new, more effective screening tests will be introduced for both bowel and cervical screening.

The forthcoming introduction of these tests in England, Scotland and Wales will help save more lives from these cancers. We will be monitoring progress to make sure they are introduced quickly in each nation.

7. A childhood obesity plan

Over the summer, the Government finally published its childhood obesity strategy. It’s fair to say the plan wasn’t exactly what we’d hoped for, and we were disappointed that it had been watered down. But the plans for a sugary drinks tax slightly sweetened the deal, and we look forward to the tax being introduced as soon as possible.

But the tax isn’t enough on its own.

The nation’s children and their families need a comprehensive approach to tackle children’s obesity, especially to tackle junk food marketing. We launched our Junk Free TV campaign in July with the help of nearly 100 of our Cancer Campaign Ambassadors descending on Westminster to speak to their MP about the importance of tackling childhood obesity. We’ll be continuing to push government to extend junk food advertising restrictions in the New Year.

What’s missing?

We were hopeful that a new tobacco control plan would make the list of key moments for 2016.

Unfortunately, we still haven’t seen this from government, despite it being promised last year (and the current one being out of date). The Department of Health has said the plan is on the way, but with vital NHS Stop Smoking Services under pressure, the new plan is urgently needed to continue the progress made in reducing tobacco use in the UK.

Thank you

It’s thanks to each and every one of our supporters and volunteers that we’re able to keep the pressure on government and tackle these issues.

So as we look forward to a busy 2017 keeping cancer at the top of the political agenda, we’d like to thank you all.

Roxy Squire is a public affairs officer at Cancer Research UK

Comments

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Emma January 11, 2017

Hi Darren,
Thanks for your comment.
There’s no evidence that Raymond Rife machines, or any similar devices, have any effect at treating cancer. But that’s not to say that research into electromagnetic resonance doesn’t have any potential – there are scientists around the world investigating this topic. For example, a recent study published by a group in Switzerland showed that low-intensity electromagnetic radiation helped slow down the growth of aggressive brain tumours, helping patients survive longer http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2475463. But this does not mean that Rife machines will have the same beneficial effect and we don’t recommend that patients use one.
Best wishes,
Emma, Cancer Research UK

Darren January 10, 2017

Can you tell me if CRUK is looking into the Raymond Rife inventions and frequencies that the Smithsonian institute recognised could destroy Cancer with resonance? I would love to see some real scholarly research findings by more than one research centre.

Catherine Pickworth January 10, 2017

Hi Bernard,

Thanks for your comment.
We fund research into both leukaemia and prostate cancer.
Our research has already helped to find genetic variations, like faults in the BRCA2 gene, that increase the risk of prostate cancer. This could lead to new treatments and help identify men that would benefit most from monitoring. Last year, we spent £17 million on prostate cancer research, to fund the work of scientists like Professor Ros Eeles. Professor Eeles is researching the genetics of prostate cancer, which could help to spot the disease earlier, when it is easier to treat, which could help improve survival.
Thanks to research, five-year survival for leukaemia has more than quadrupled in the last 40 years. But there is still progress to be made. We spent £18 million on leukaemia research last year. This money is helping support research like Dr Marian Burr’s. She is looking at how acute myeloid leukaemia stem cells escape treatment and how they can trigger cancer to come back. This could be a clue towards developing new targeted treatments that can kill specialised leukaemia stem cells and leave healthy stem cells alone.
This is just a taster of the sort of work we fund. You can read more about the work we do, and the progress we have made in specific cancer types, here.

Best Wishes,
Catherine, Cancer Research UK

Robert Lock January 10, 2017

Daily Mail 2015. “Nine executives at Cancer Research UK earn more than the Prime Minister, including chief executive Harpal Kumar, who pockets up to £240,000 a year.” Although we all enjoyed the London Shine Walk last year, this disgusting pay rate takes the edge off it.

Anthony Roberts January 10, 2017

I have prostate cancer and a new treatment was recently revealed on itv news that its been experimentally tried successfully on 400 patients. I think its sound based but do you have any information to put out that may give people like me some more hope?

Rachael Poulston January 10, 2017

I know it will not being love ones back but this I promise you all I will donate money

Bob January 10, 2017

Keep up the good work and let’s hope that the government listen to you more!

Jayne Millicheap January 10, 2017

Thank you for the easy to read “Cancer Research UK ” up-dates.

Mrs Dawn Asplen January 10, 2017

Dawn thank you for everything you do and I am so pleased to have helped with your appeals here’s to another great year God bless you all XXX

Les January 10, 2017

Very informative and thanks for the excellent work you are committed to.

Kathie January 10, 2017

Just a big thank you for your commitment, hard work and making a difference.

Carol January 10, 2017

Keep up the good work. You are giving hope to millions.

Bernard January 10, 2017

Does CRUK apply any resources to LEUKAEMIA and/or PROSTATE cancer research? If so, is there any progress to report, please? Thank you