Access to Treatments

We know that one of the reasons UK cancer outcomes lag behind other comparable countries is variation in access to appropriate treatments. Ensuring all cancer patients can access the best evidence-based treatments available for their condition would have a big impact on patient survival in the UK.

We want…

Radiotherapy can cure cancer, is cost-effective and cutting-edge. Radiotherapy treatments are becoming ever more sophisticated and it is important that patients receive the latest treatments available once they have been proven effective. Experts suggest radiotherapy contributes 4 in 10 cases where cancer is cured.

We’ve already won over £23 million from Government to help increase patient access to radiotherapy – every year at least 6,000 more patients now have access to IMRT (a more targeted radiotherapy that causes fewer side effects). We now want the Government to commit to setting out a long-term strategy to make innovative radiotherapy treatments available to all patients who would benefit. The strategy should outline how out-dated radiotherapy machines will be replaced, equipment that will deliver advanced techniques will be introduced, together with how the workforce will be resourced.

Surgery is an essential component of the management and treatment of cancer, contributing to the most cases where cancer is cured (5 in 10). However, evidence suggests that older patients are less likely to have surgery for their cancer. For example, in 2008-12 only 13.9% of over-75 year olds in the UK received surgery for lung cancer compared to 21.4% 65-74 year olds.

We believe surgery should be offered to all cancer patients as a treatment option where appropriate. Whilst management of cancer in the elderly is complex, we want the Government to commit to increase access to surgery in the older population.

Cancer drugs play an important role in many cancer patients’ treatment. Appropriate access to effective and innovative cancer drugs is therefore vital. We need Government to find a long-term solution to making effective cancer drugs available to patients. This will require NICE, the NHS and drugs companies to work together.

Personalised medicine is already revolutionising cancer treatment – making sure patients get the best, evidence-based drugs for their condition, and to avoid side effects from the drugs we can predict will not work for them. In future, we will develop many more targeted treatments so the Government needs to ensure the NHS develops a commissioning policy to routinely offer patients the appropriate diagnostic tests.

Live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland?

Our team works on devolved issues across all the nations, and we believe MPs in devolved nations have an important role to play. We are asking them to encourage elected colleagues in devolved nations to support our key campaign policies. In addition, devolved MPs’ support for all our work helps keep cancer top of the agenda and spending decisions in Westminster can affect how devolved administrations are able to join the fight to beat cancer sooner.

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