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Charity outlines vision for tackling cancer

Published on 23/05/07 at 03:52pm

Cancer Research UK has set out an ambitious list of goals to reach by 2020, which it hopes will inspire the whole cancer community.

At the core of the charity's plans is making the latest advances in treatment - from immunotherapy to targeted treatments and gene therapy - available to all patients who could benefit from them.

Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "We believe this is the first time a major UK research organisation has put a stake in the ground and said what impact it hopes to have in the long term.

"Our goals are as broad as they are ambitious. They recognise the importance of furthering our fundamental biological understanding of cancer, while at the same time taking that knowledge out of the lab and turning it into new treatments."

Cancer Research UK's new goals are wide-ranging and include lessening cancer incidence, ensuring patients get access to the information they need and reducing current inequalities in incidence and survival between the most and least affluent.

The goals also include building on new data from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine showing survival rates have doubled in 30 years.

The figures show that while survival varies widely between different types of cancer, on average, a patient with cancer now has a 46% chance of being alive 10 years after diagnosis. This compares with 24% 30 years ago.

Professor Coleman from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said: "We don't generally use an overall survival figure for cancer, partly because it is not a helpful number to individual cancer patients anxious to know their own chances. But since the new goals relate to cancer as a whole, we feel it is important to define a simple baseline for watching progress.

"Behind the overall figures lie both disappointments and success stories. Pancreatic cancer and lung cancer both remain low on the scale and have seen little improvement."

The figures show that five-year survival rates range from just 2.5% for pancreatic cancer to 95% for testicular cancer.

Survival rates for breast cancer have improved significantly - almost two thirds of all women newly diagnosed are now likely to survive for at least 20 years. And five-year survival for bowel cancer has risen from 40% to almost 46% over the last decade.

The Goals

By 2020 the charity wants to see the following achieved:

* People will know how to reduce their risk of cancer

* The number of smokers will fall dramatically

* People under 75 will be less likely to get cancer

* Cancer will be diagnosed earlier

* There will be greater understanding of how cancer starts and develops

* There will be better treatments with fewer side effects

* More people will survive cancer

* Low income communities will be addressed

* People with cancer will receive more information

* The charity will continue to fight cancer beyond 2020


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