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Time to revise Cancer Plan

24th August 2006

24082006_chemo1.jpgAccording to a new report published by the King’s Fund the national strategy for cancer services should be revised to take account of technology developments and the ageing population.

The report, Future Trends and Challenges for Cancer Services in England, commissioned by Cancer Research UK, is a review of literature and policy as well as a set of interviews. It points to evidence showing that technological, demographical and policy changes are having significant effects on cancer services and will lead to new ways of diagnosing and treating cancer.  A new plan is needed now to take into account changes to NHS funding policy and a move to provide more care away from hospitals, said the King's Fund.

The Cancer Plan must evolve to reflect better screening, earlier diagnosis and new treatments, resulting in more people living as cancer survivors. The proportion of over 65s in the population will grow from 16 per cent in 2004 to 23 per cent by 2031, increasing the number of people who develop cancer in older age. 

There have been many successes under the current Cancer Plan, says the report, including better survival rates, patient access and waiting times. However interviews conducted for the report say that there are areas where further work is needed and policy should be rethought.

Areas of further work identified include; improving the knowledge base for cancer policy, addressing gaps and weaknesses in the current Cancer Plan, and sustaining the function of cancer networks in the new NHS policy environment.

In June this year, Cancer Research UK launched the Cancer 2020 campaign; it urges politicians responsible for the NHS in the four nations of the UK to plan now for the future challenges facing cancer services. Chief executive of Cancer Research UK, Professor Alex Markham, encouraged people to consider the messages in the King's Fund report.

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