Less Survivable Cancer Taskforce doubling survivable statement

Wednesday 5 September 2018

Today sees the launch of the Less Survivable Cancer Taskforce's campaign to double five-year survival for each of the six less survivable cancers

The Taskforce has set itself a target of doubling survival over the next ten years for – lung, liver, brain, stomach, pancreatic and oesophageal cancers.

Currently, in England, survival of the less survivable cancers stands at just 14%.

By 2029, the Taskforce wants to see this rise to 28% and are calling on the Government and NHS England to accept this target and collaborate with cancer charities to achieve it.

This is particularly pertinent as the gap between the more and less survivable cancers sits at 50%.

We aim to close this gap.

Less survivable cancers

Around 70,000 people are diagnosed with one of the less survivable cancers every year in the UK.

If the target is achieved, a total of 20,000 people would live for more than five years after their diagnosis.

This means an additional 10,000 lives could be saved every year in the UK.

A decade's-long legacy of neglect and underfunding has led to a lack of public awareness, funding, research, trials and treatments, and a failure to improve early detection and diagnosis times.

Successive governments have failed to prioritise these cancers leaving many patients feeling they have effectively been written off.

The target will give patients diagnosed with a less survivable cancer the assurance they will not be left behind in improvements in cancer outcomes, giving them the best possible chance to beat their diagnosis so they can live longer and fuller lives.

Cancer in the NHS Long Term Plan

Following the new five year funding settlement, the NHS is currently developing a new ten year cancer plan.

The plan will update the existing Cancer Strategy 2015-2020 and build upon the report of the independent Cancer Taskforce which provided a blueprint for improving cancer outcomes and services.

The Taskforce is requiring its survival target to be included within this cancer plan for England. Whilst the call is currently focused on England, we are urging similar measures are adopted across the UK.

The less survivable cancers constitute a quarter of common cancer diagnoses in the UK annually, yet claim half of all common cancer deaths each year.

Whilst the target is wholly achievable, political drive as well as a collaborative effort from governments, clinicians, funders and charities is necessary to ensure more patients diagnosed with a less survivable cancer are living past five years.

The brain tumour community

The target will come as welcome news to the brain tumour community, where just 19% of people diagnosed with a high grade brain tumour will survive for five years or more.

Brain tumours are also one of four cancers with a ten-year survival rate of less than 15%.

Alongside the Taskforce's target, our goal is to halve the average years of life lost to a brain tumour from 20.1 to 10 years by 2025.

We will endeavour to make great strides in achieving this and will make concerted and collaborative efforts with relevant stakeholders to ensure those who suffer a brain tumour diagnosis are not left behind in improvements in cancer survival rates.

How to support the target

You can support this campaign by;

  • Sharing your support via social media, using the hashtag #28BY29
  • Writing to your MP to ask them to back the new survival target
  • Contact the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce to register your support

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