SoR supports Cancer Research UK proposals to prevent 20,000 deaths per year

Cancer Research UK has published an ambitious cancer plan in hopes of putting the UK among the best in the world for cancer survival by 2035

Published: 29 November 2023 Government & NHS

The Society of Radiographers has announced its support for the cancer care measures and commitments the next government should make, as set out by Cancer Research UK ahead of the next election. 

Cancer Research UK (CRUK), the UK's leading independent cancer charity, has published a manifesto calling for a national commitment to reduce the cancer mortality rate by 15 per cent by 2040, preventing 20,000 cancer deaths every year 

The “Longer Better Lives: A Manifesto for Cancer Research and Care” document has been developed with the insights of cancer patients and experts from across health, life sciences, government and academic sectors.

The Society of Radiographers welcomed the manifesto.

Lack of capacity

Dean Rogers, director of industrial strategy for the Society of Radiographers, said it was an  “important document, highlighting some of the key issues faced by our workforce.”

Therapeutic radiographers, who plan and deliver radiotherapy for cancer patients, are now forced to triage patients for radiotherapy – delaying vital treatment for all but the most urgent cases – because of workforce shortages.

Mr Rogers added: “The biggest single barrier to improving waiting-time performance is lack of capacity in the health service – particularly diagnostic capacity. There remains a pressing shortage of radiography professionals – who work in diagnostic services, carrying out X-rays, MRI and CT scans, as well as in therapeutic services.

“The NHS is facing a workforce crisis, as well as a growing crisis of confidence from patients and their families. This is the consequence of political short-termism, leading to years of underinvestment. The NHS can’t just be a convenient soundbite – we need a focused, strategic approach.

“Above all, our members want to see their patients living longer, better lives – which means investing in the workforce, prioritising radiography and taking the politics out of the NHS.”

'The defining health issue of our time'

While CRUK said “huge progress” has been made on cancer – in the 1970s, only 1 in 4 people survived their cancer for 10 years or more; now, twice as many do – cancer is still the defining health issue of our time, according to the charity. 

A decade ago, England and Denmark were improving cancer outcomes at broadly the same rate. CRUK explained however that, with consistent funding and long-term strategies, Denmark has raced ahead.

The charity predicts by 2040, the number of new cases will increase by around a quarter, meaning around half a million new cases diagnosed each year. Moreover, it explained cancer does not affect people equally – more than 33,000 cases each year across the UK are attributable to deprivation.

Improvements in cancer research and care would reduce health, social care and ‘informal’ care costs (care provided by family and carers), contribute to treating other health conditions, and have a positive impact on workforce productivity and quality of life.

The five missions

CRUK listed five “missions” that should be undertaken in order to achieve “longer, better lives.”

1. Rebuild the UK’s global position in biomedical research: the government must set out a plan to close the more than £1 billion funding gap for research into cancer over the next decade, CRUK said.

2. Prevent more cancers than ever before: The government must pledge to end cancers caused by smoking, calling a for a “world-leading programme of measures to help people who smoke to quit.”

3. Diagnose more cancers early: The government must drive earlier diagnoses, by implementing proven measures including a lung screening programme, and reduce inequalities in access.

4. Bring innovation to patients more quickly and reduce inequalities: The government should ensure cancer wait time targets are met across England.

5. Build a national movement to beat cancer, sooner: Ultimately, the government must publish its own long-term cancer strategy for England and establish a National Cancer Council, accountable to the prime minister, to drive cross-government action on cancer.