Our policy on cancer surgery

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Get in touch with our policy team to find out more information about our work and our policies.

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We want all cancer patients in the UK to have access to the most appropriate, high-quality surgery for their condition.

Surgery is the foundation of treatment for a number of cancers and many patients receive surgery before any other type of treatment. Around half of all patients whose cancer is cured have surgery as part of their treatment.  Advances in surgical techniques have seen increased use of less invasive procedures which can reduce recovery times and improve patient experience.

However, there are variations in surgical activity across the country which need to be addressed.

The 2012 National Lung Cancer Audit showed that despite recent improvements in the proportion of patients receiving anti-cancer lung surgery, there are still wide variations – numbers of lung cancer patients receiving surgery in 2011 ranged between below 5% to above 30% across hospital trusts. Variations in access to surgery in other cancers such as colorectal, pancreas and prostate have also been identified, and we want to see more work being done to understand why this is the case.

The proportion of patients undergoing potentially curative surgery is lower in the UK than in other developed countries.

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