Public health prevention and upgrading equipments could save 30,000 lives a year, according to a new cancer strategy. The report has suggested six strategic priorities for the National Health Survey (NHS) to make improvements in cancer care.
In 2013-14, 280,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in England and this was expected to reach more than 300,000 by 2020, and more than 360,000 by 2030. One in two people will develop cancer at some point in their lives.
AdvertisementThe taskforce set up by NHS England to develop the next cancer strategy, said that with survival rates also increasing each year more and more people were living with cancer.
The report sets out proposals for how patient experience can be transformed both during and after treatment at a time when NHS cancer services are under unprecedented pressure.
Tobacco remains the main risk factor for cancer, followed by obesity. Four in 10 cases of cancer caused by aspects of people's lifestyles that they have the ability to change.
"Financial pressures in hospitals are precluding Linacs [radiotherapy machines] being replaced or updated in a timely way," it said. "It is not in the interests of patients or cost-effective that we allow this situation to persist."
It said radiotherapy was second only to surgery in its effectiveness in treating cancer. While 38% of cancer patients in England currently had radiotherapy as part of their treatment, international benchmarks suggested this should be closer to 50%.
The report also sets out a national target for 95% of patients referred for testing by a GP to be definitively diagnosed with cancer or have it ruled out within four weeks.
It said this would require a "significant increase in diagnostic capacity", but could also reduce the burden and reliance on GPs. The strategy recommends electronic access to all test results and other communications involving further care by 2020 for all consenting patients.
Taskforce chairman Harpal Kumar said: "We have an opportunity to save many thousands of lives from cancer every year. We're better informed than ever about how best to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease, and how to deliver better patient experience and quality of life. What's needed now is action."
"Three previous cancer strategies did a great job of setting England on the path to a world-class cancer service. But we are a long way from where we should be. Our expectation is that the government and NHS will now make the investments required and implement this strategy with commitment and speed."
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