The challenge is to deliver cancer centres that provide highly effective, technologically advanced care and support as well as research and education
Cancer affects the lives of most people, whether as a patient or as a family member or friend of someone living with the disease: one in two UK people born after 1960 will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, according to Cancer Research UK. Yet despite rising numbers of sufferers, cancer survival rates in the UK are the best they have ever been. The most recent figures suggest survival one-year post-diagnosis is at 72%, up from 61% in 2000.
The UK is home to some of the most innovative state-funded cancer treatment centres in the world. However, the NHS is under immense strain. Record numbers of people are coming forward for cancer tests, with almost a quarter of a million referrals per month in 2022, according to NHS data – triple the number of referrals reported in 2020, when the pandemic meant people were often reluctant to attend hospitals or to visit their GP practice.
This means cancer centres are dealing with all‑time high levels of referrals and patients, at a time when the risks of covid are ongoing.
The NHS Long Term Plan commits to dramatically improving cancer survival by 2028, partly by increasing the proportion of cancers diagnosed early. At the moment, the NHS reports that about 50% of cancers are diagnosed early. The target is to bring that up to 75%.
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