Cancer care improving but "challenges ahead"

In collaboration with the Press Association

National Cancer director professor Mike Richards has spoken of the progress being made in the provision of cancer care in the UK. Speaking to the Health Service Journal conference "Redesigning cancer services", Professor Richards said waiting times for cancer patients had been reduced, the breast screening programme had been extended, a new bowel cancer screening programme will save more lives from early detection, and a further of funding to improve facilities for older patients in hospices.

However, with more people diagnosed with cancer every year, mainly due to an aging population, Professor Richards said that there were still challenges ahead for the NHS and the cancer services it provides must keep improving. This message has been echoed by Cancer Research UK which has launched its Cancer 2020 campaign to urge politicians across the UK to start planning now for the future needs of cancer care and treatments. It is calling for politicians responsible for the NHS in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to draw up cancer strategies extending until at least 2020. "New methods of prevention, screening and diagnosis, and new generations of targeted and tailored drugs and treatments, could hugely improve cancer services in the next decade and beyond," a Cancer Research UK spokesperson said. "Some cancers may become manageable diseases like other long-term medical conditions such as heart disease. These new developments will bring significantly increased costs for the NHS and could require major changes to the way cancer services are delivered."