Having lost loves ones to this terrible disease myself, I am acutely aware of the suffering it causes and heartened to see that we are heading in the right direction. Survival rates are at a record high, though we always push for better, and since 2010 rates of survival from cancer have increased year-on-year. There are now around 7,000 people alive today who would not otherwise have been had mortality rates stayed the same.
As you may be aware, currently just over half of all cancers are detected at an early stage. Through changes to screening programmes, providing new investment in state-of-the-art technology to transform diagnosis, and boosts to research and development, we will increase that to three quarters by 2028.
This is all part of the NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019, and forms part of how the Government will achieve its ambition to see 55,000 more people in England surviving cancer for at least five years each year from 2028.
I also wholeheartedly agree with the Independent Cancer Taskforce, who in 2015 set out a vision of what cancer patients should expect from the health service:
- effective prevention
- prompt and effective diagnosis
- informed choice and convenient care
- access to the best effective treatments with minimal side-effects
- always knowing what is going on and why
- holistic support
- the best possible quality of life, including at the end of life.
NHS England confirmed funding of over £600 million to support delivery of this strategy and £200 million was used in 2017 and 2018 on a transformation fund for Cancer Alliances to encourage local areas to find new and innovative ways to diagnose cancer earlier, improve the care for those living with cancer and ensure each cancer patient gets the right care for them.
Finally, I would like to congratulate Cancer Research UK on all of their campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of early diagnosis. Our shared focus is the need for early and speedy diagnosis, to give patients the best chances of long-term survival and save many families the heartache associated with this disease.