Cancer plan failures "astonishing" says Cancer Research UK

In collaboration with the Press Association

Cancer Research UK has described as "astonishing" the finding that a third of all cancer networks have no comprehensive plans for providing cancer treatment.

The networks - groups of hospitals offering joined-up cancer services with major hospitals as hubs - were set up five years ago under the government's ten-year programme for cancer treatment reforms.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) also found that "stark inequalities" of cancer care remain in parts of the UK, despite "significant progress" in some areas.

"It is simply astonishing in this day and age that nearly a third of the cancer networks lacked comprehensive plans for providing cancer services," said John Toy, medical director of Cancer Research UK.

"[It is] very depressing that this is particularly the case in more deprived areas which are the very ones with poorest cancer outcomes."

Cancer fatalities have remained highest in the poorest areas of the country, with differences in survival rates for some cancers of up to 20 per cent.

The PAC report also found that cancer diagnosis tends to come later in the UK than in other EU countries, further impacting on cancer sufferers' chances of survival.

"Late presentation is an important factor in determining a poorer cancer prognosis," added Mr Toy.

"Cancer Research UK's Reduce the Risk Campaign - which highlights the lifestyle changes that can reduce cancer risk - has produced a leaflet listing general early warning signs but the government should set up a national programme that would help to reduce late presentation."