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Cancer

Volume 472: debated on Monday 3 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health further to the publication of the Cancer Reform Strategy, how he plans to ensure that patients with rarer cancers receive the treatment and support that they require; and how he plans to measure progress towards this objective. (187558)

The “Cancer Reform Strategy”, published last year, reconfirmed the Government’s commitment to improving services for all cancer patients including those diagnosed with less common and rare cancers.

The strategy aims to improve cancer prevention, speed up the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, reduce inequalities, improve the experience of people living with and beyond cancer and ensure care is delivered in the most appropriate settings.

Annual reports from the National Cancer Director will assess overall progress on tackling cancer. These reports will be published.

In addition, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has issued “Improving Outcomes Guidance” covering the majority of less common cancers such as brain tumours, sarcoma, pancreatic cancers and haematological cancers.

Both the Department and the Healthcare Commission monitor implementation of “Improving Outcomes Guidance”.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health further to the publication of the Cancer Reform Strategy, how he plans to address the health inequalities faced by socio-economically deprived groups in relation to cancer; and how he plans to measure progress. (187559)

As announced in the “Cancer Reform Strategy”, we are launching the National Cancer Equality Initiative (NCEI) to tackle inequalities in cancer outcomes. The NCEI will bring together key stakeholders to develop research proposals on cancer inequalities, test interventions and to advise on the development of wider policy. This work is in the early stages of development and is being lead by the National Cancer Director.

Local action will also be necessary to tackle inequalities. As part of the measures we are introducing to ensure stronger commissioning, primary care trusts, in association with their cancer network, will wish to undertake a local equality impact assessment and take appropriate steps to address local issues. The Department will also continue to encourage innovation in tackling inequalities through the section 64 grant programme.

We are committed to tracking progress on cancer to ensure that all the aims of the “Cancer Reform Strategy”, including reducing inequalities, are achieved and the National Cancer Director will deliver annual reports on progress to Ministers.

Additionally, the UK National Screening Committee is conducting an equality review within the national screening programmes, including those for cancer. As a result of this review, the National Screening Committee will consider what initiatives could be undertaken to improve access to screening in vulnerable populations.