Charity alliance calls for government to double the survivability of deadliest cancers by 2029

5th September 2018

The combined five-year survivability for people diagnosed with either brain, liver, lung, oesophageal, pancreatic or stomach cancers stands currently at just 14%. Today, six charities representing these diseases have come together to urge the government to adopt a new target: to double the number of people who survive for at least five years to 28% by 2029, as part of the renewed NHS 10-year plan.

Annually, in England 70,000 people are diagnosed with one of the less survivable cancers. If this five-year target is achieved by 2029, an extra 10,000 people a year would go on to live a longer life after diagnosis.

The charity coalition, the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce (LSCT), believes this target is achievable but only with the full backing of government and NHS England. A new NHS plan with updated objectives for cancer is currently being prepared for integration with the existing Cancer Strategy in England – the LSCT is calling for a five-year survival target to be included.

Since 1971, survival for some cancers have improved by up to 87% due to increased public awareness, more funding and research breakthroughs, and enhanced treatment methods. The LSCT wants to set the less survivable cancers on the same path.

The path to achieving this target includes:

  • Prioritising research and early diagnosis for these less survivable cancers
  • Ensuring the NHS England’s Cancer Dashboard is extended to include data for the less survivable cancers (right now it only offers specific data for breast, colorectal, lung and prostate cancer). This data is critical to identifying variations in survival rates, enabling better outcomes and ensuring the best care is delivered across England to improve survival outcomes overall.
  • Speeding up paths to treatment, which is vital for the less survivable cancers, which are very aggressive
  • Removing barriers to clinical trials
  • Increasing investment in research into these diseases, which currently lags behind compared to most other cancers.

LSCT is made up of the following six charities: Action Against Heartburn, The Brain Tumour Charity, The British Liver Trust, Guts UK, Pancreatic Cancer UK and the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.

The Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce will be holding an event in the Parliament on Thursday 6th September to engage MPs and peers about the importance of the proposed target and to seek their support.

A spokesperson for Cancer52, said:

“Cancer52 supports the calls made by the Taskforce which should be an important part of a broader initiative and strategy focused on improving a wider range of outcome measures in all rare and less common cancers, which account for some 47% of diagnoses and 55% of deaths from cancer.

“Cancer52 particularly supports the call for the extension of the NHS England Cancer Dashboard but to cover all cancers, not just the four ‘common cancers’ of lung, breast, colorectal and prostate.”

Visit the Less Survivable Cancer Taskforce website for information on how you can help.

Read about Guts UK involvement with the Less Survivable Cancer Taskforce.

Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce charity coalition Chair Anna Jewell and oesophageal cancer survivor and Guts UK supporter Steve Metcalfe discuss the Taskforce campaign on Sky News on 5 September 2018.

 Decades of neglect and underfunding have left survival of brain, liver, lung, oesophageal, pancreatic and stomach cancers unacceptably low.

Everyone with cancer deserves a fair chance of survival and we know that what gets measured gets done, so we are calling today for the government to adopt our target of doubling the five-year survival for these less survivable cancers to 28% by 2029. No one with cancer should feel they have been written off.

Anna Jewell, Chair of the Less Survivable Cancer Taskforce
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