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