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Cancer plan could save 30,000 patients

The Independent Cancer Workforce has recommended a new “route map” for cancer prevention, diagnosis and care which Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, says the NHS will be backing.

The plan, which the Taskforce predicts could save 30,000 lives a year, suggests there needs to be a “radical upgrade” in prevention and public health, including a new tobacco strategy within 12 months to cut smoking rates from 18.4% to 13% by 2020, and a national action plan on obesity.

It also proposes a “significant increase” in diagnostic capacity, giving GPs access to “key investigative tests” and testing new models to reduce the burden on GPs.

It suggests that by 2020 patients who are referred for tests by a GP are given a definite answer within four weeks that they either have cancer, or cancer is ruled out.

Dr Richard Roope, Cancer Research UK's GP expert, said: “The health system is about to face the 'perfect storm' - an ageing and growing population and worsening lifestyles. But we now have an unprecedented opportunity to change society's attitudes and experience of cancer and ultimately improve survival.”  

Patients would also get electronic access to test results and a clinical nurse specialist or other key worker to coordinate their care. By 2020, every person with cancer would get access to a 'Recovery Package' - a comprehensive plan that outlines treatment and post-treatment support and care.

Responding to the report, Simon Stevens said that “one in two of us will get cancer at some point in our lives, and the good news is that survival rates are their highest ever. But two fifths of cancers are preventable, and half of patients are currently diagnosed when their cancers are advanced. That's why the NHS will be backing this groundbreaking route map for prevention, earlier diagnosis, modern treatments and compassionate care.”