Government announces new cancer plan

In collaboration with the Press Association

The government has announced that it will be producing a draft Cancer Reform Strategy, setting out its cancer care strategy until 2020.

The eventual strategy will replace the Cancer Plan launched in 2000.

Speaking at the Britain against Cancer conference, health secretary Patricia Hewitt admitted that, while the Cancer Plan had been a great success, it would soon become outdated.

Cancer Research UK has called for a renewed cancer plan to focus on changing needs, delivering a 250,000 signature petition backing its calls to Downing Street last week.

"We're delighted that the government is committed to building on its strategy for cancer," said head of Cancer Research UK professor Alex Markham.

"This is vital if we are to prepare for the future challenges of cancer as the number of patients and the cost of treating them will certainly rise in the next decade.

"A report we commissioned from the King's Fund in August underlined the necessity of updating the Cancer Plan to continue to improve services.

"The 2000 NHS Cancer Plan has been massively successful in transforming cancer services in England, delivering impressive results in the areas it targeted.

"But as more sophisticated and expensive treatments become available it's essential that the NHS starts planning now for their introduction in the medium term."

He added that the plan must make allowances for the projected doubling of the population aged over 65 during the next 15 years and address the rising costs of medicine.