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Let's beat cancer sooner

Our cancer campaign ambassadors gather at Westminster in 2012. We’re all set to go back in July – why don’t you join us?

The future for people diagnosed with cancer today looks a whole lot brighter than it would have done 40 years ago.

Research has resulted in improved diagnostic techniques and better treatments for patients. Yet medical science doesn’t tell the whole story.

The reality is that our fight against cancer extends well beyond the lab. Every day, we work to ensure the government brings in new policies – based on the results of our research – that help prevent cancer, detect it earlier and ensure patients are offered the best treatment possible.

With just a year to go until the 2015 General Election we’ve identified four key issues, with 10 recommendations for action, that we think the next government should focus on. They are:

Getting tougher on tobacco

Smoking remains the number one cause of preventable death and disease, yet one in five people in the UK still smoke. This needs to change. We want to see:

  1. The government act on its recent commitment on standardised packaging for cigarettes.
  2. More measures to support smokers who want to quit, such as stop smoking services.

Spotting cancer early

When it comes to cancer diagnosis earlier is always better. Promoting earlier diagnosis of cancer is vital. We want to see:

  1. Continued support for campaigns that raise public awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer.
  2. A commitment to encourage more people to take part in bowel screening, and to provide information on both risks and benefits.
  3. Measures to improve swift diagnosis, for example, through improved GP access to diagnostic tests.

Ensuring access to surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy

Recent evidence shows patients in the UK have a harder time getting some treatments than patients in other countries. To improve the situation and increase survival, we need to reverse this trend. We want to see:

  1. Commitments to ensure all patients across the country get the chance to receive the best possible treatment.
  2. All patients who would benefit get up-to-the-minute radiotherapy techniques.
  3. A fast-track scheme allowing patients early access to promising new treatments.

Ensuring the UK remains a competitive research hub

We need a can do attitude that moves with the times and acts quickly on the results of scientific research to benefit patients. We want to see:

  1. A long-term commitment to maintaining the amount government spends on science.
  2. A commitment to reduce the time it takes to get approval to embark on a clinical study.

So what happens next?

From now until the General Election, we’ll be working hard to get our voice heard by the people who matter in government.

Our activities are already well underway but a key event will be on July 2nd, when we descend on Westminster with more than 100 of our Cancer Campaign Ambassadors. They will be highlighting the importance of early diagnosis and access to treatments with their MPs.

We’ll be covering the day on the blog, but, in the meantime, if you would like to be involved in the campaign as our work ramps up ahead of the election, sign up for campaign updates here.

Sara Osborne is head of policy at Cancer Research UK


Henry Scowcroft June 6, 2014

Pete – our researchers were instrumental in making the case for government regulation of asbestos – you can read about this work in this blog post.

These regulations were updated in 2012 with the introduction of a new EU directive, and are extremely comprehensive – we think there’s little room for improvement based on the current evidence. However, we’re all too aware of the distressing toll of mesothelioma, and the urgent need for new treatments for patients affected by previous asbestos exposure – we’re funding several clinical trials looking at new treatments for the disease.

Pete June 5, 2014

You guys keep forgetting about asbestos.I’ll say it again ,asbestos.

RobW May 30, 2014

You have missed the elephant in the room.

Encourage as many smokers to switch to e-cigs, the biggest potential public health prize in a generation. Your stance on ecigs is appalling – profits before lives, shameful

Nick Peel May 23, 2014

Thank you for your comments. We completely agree that transparency in clinical trials is important. The new EU Clinical Trials Regulation that was finalised earlier this year addresses the issue of clinical trial transparency head on. We supported the development of this regulation and helped make sure it is proportionate so that academics can adhere to reporting requirements. We’re also exploring ways to make results and data as accessible as possible. And of course, we are signatories to the AllTrials campaign spearheaded by Ben Goldacre and support its aims.

Nick Peel, Cancer Research UK

Dr Mills May 22, 2014

As “A fast-track scheme allowing patients early access to promising new treatments” seems to mean: prescribe expensive unproven end-of-life drugs of dubious benefit, I suggest replacing No 8 with Dr Raven’s suggestion

agree with Dr Raven.

In fact, I think you can replace 8 – oracle global temporary tables performance

Dr Neil Raven May 22, 2014

These are all excellent aspirations, however, I feel a very important one has been omitted. This is that all clinical trials (not just cancer clinical trials) should be required to register what the intention of the trial is, the primary outcomes which will define whether it has been successful or not, the methodologies employed, side effects observed, drop out rates, a commitment to publish negative or neutral results as well as positive, how does it perform against placebo etc. etc. I refer you to the book “Bad Pharma” by Dr Ben Goldacre for the rationale behind this.