NHS cancer care has never been better with over two thousand more people surviving cancer every year

Thanks to improved NHS cancer care, over two thousand more people are this year able to enjoy Christmas with their families. Survival rates have never been higher and the gap between the best and the worst areas is also closing.

Areas with historically lower survival rates are closing or have caught up with average survival, highlighting that work to improve cancer care is making a real difference to patients, according to figures published by the Office for National Statistics.

New reports also show more people with lung and bowel cancer are having successful surgery and living longer. For men with prostate cancer, the news is also good, with less undergoing radical prostatectomy or receiving unnecessary treatment.

Cally Palmer, National Director for Cancer at NHS England, said: “The NHS is making very significant progress in cancer care, improving survival and quality of life for all those affected by cancer as the latest figures demonstrate.  We are determined to do more to ensure that the NHS is among the very best in the world in preventing cancer, ensuring earlier diagnosis and access to leading edge treatment and care for all patients.”

NHS England has made significant progress on the earlier and faster diagnosis of patients when it is easier to cure cancer investing in innovative schemes such as lung scanners in supermarket carparks and rolling out molecular genetic drug tests.

There has also been a big expansion in cancer check-ups – over 1.7 million people urgently referred by their GP this year, up by 500,000 people compared to three years ago.

Alongside this there has been a major investment in radiotherapy services so that all patients have access to the latest and best treatment with an investment of £130m, the most extensive programme of its kind for 15 years.

NHS England has recently published an update on progress made in the second year of the five year programme to implement the cancer strategy and improve cancer care.

Highlights of progress made over the last year include:

  • Investment of £200m over two years to achieve earlier diagnosis and improve quality of life for patients.
  • Piloting a new faster diagnosis standard to ensure that patients find out within 28 days if they have cancer.
  • 23 NHS Trusts received new and upgraded radiotherapy machines, with 50 more in at least 34 hospitals, following an investment of £130m for new technology and equipment.
  • Nine multidisciplinary diagnostic centres are working to achieve faster diagnosis for patients.
  • A new Be Clear on Cancer campaign pilot was launched in February 2017 in East and West Midlands to encourage early diagnosis of cancer.
  • Access to endoscopy services will be improved by training more non-medical endoscopists – on track to meet the target of achieving 200 new trainees by the end of the 2018.
  • More new cancer drugs have been made available through the Cancer Drugs Fund, benefiting over 15,000 patients since July 2016.
  • The National Cancer Patient Experience survey shows continuing positive patient experiences of care overall.
  • In 2000, the gap in 1-year-survival between the top and bottom CCG was 17.1 percentage points – in 2015, it was 10.6 percentage points.