Earlier Detection Of Cancer, Better Treatment For Survivors

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Work is well underway to catch more cancer cases earlier and improve the longer term treatment for cancer survivors, National Cancer Director Professor Mike Richards said today.

The first annual report setting out the Government's progress against the Cancer Reform Strategy, "Maintaining Momentum, Building for the Future", highlights the achievements made in the first year and identifies priorities for the year ahead.

The Cancer Reform Strategy (CRS) aims to work at both national and local levels to improve the quality of cancer services over a five-year period until 2012.

The highlights of the first year include:

* The launch of the National Awareness and Early Detection Initiative to pick up and treat cancer earlier;

* The launch of the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative which aims to ensure that the 1.6 million cancer survivors in England receive the integrated, quality services they need;

* The introduction of the HPV vaccine, which will protect women against the two strains of HPV which cause more than 70% of cervical cancer cases; and

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* The successful further rollout of bowel cancer screening 2000 cancers have been detected since it began in 2006.

Health Minister Ann Keen said: "I welcome the first annual report which details the excellent progress the NHS has made in improving cancer outcomes and services. This is evident in the reduction we have seen in mortality rates and improvement in one-year survival rates. The challenge now is to keep up this momentum and ensure that we continue to make further improvements.

"We are committed to providing cancer patients with the best possible services to taking action to prevent cancer in the first place and to detecting it at the earliest possible point. The HPV vaccination programme, extensions of the bowel and breast screening programmes and a new national awareness and early diagnosis initiative will help to make this a reality."

Professor Mike Richards said: "Cancer treatment in Britain has improved vastly in recent years and we are now beginning to see the impact on our survival rates. Recent cancer mortality figures for under 75s show that nearly 9000 lives will have been saved in 2007 compared with 1996 and we are on course to meet our target of a reduction of at least 20% in cancer death rates by 2010.

"The proposals that I set out last month in Improving access to medicines for NHS patients will also help to ensure that a greater range of more expensive drugs are made available to more cancer patients on the NHS, reducing their need to seek private drugs. Together with new proposals from NICE, this will enable patients to have faster access to more life saving cancer drugs.

"It is vital that we carry on the progress we have made in the last year and I have identified with the Cancer Reform Strategy board our key priorities for the coming year including tackling delays in diagnosing cancer and improving the quality and safety of chemotherapy services."

Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK said: "It is good to see so much improvement in cancer treatment but we still face a great challenge. We know that cancers are often being picked up too late and we could make an enormous difference if we could speed the process up.

"We hope that the range of measures we're launching with the national cancer director through the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative will go a long way towards redressing the balance."

Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support said: "We warmly welcomed the Cancer Reform Strategy when it was launched 12 months ago because it has the potential to transform the quality of services for two million people living with cancer. Implementation of the CRS locally by the NHS will ultimately determine its success for patients. We remain confident that the strategy will be fully implemented by 2012 as long as it is given higher priority by the Government and NHS locally."

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