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Cancer Strategy

Volume 524: debated on Tuesday 8 March 2011

18. What assessment he has made of the effect on survival rates of his Department’s cancer strategy. (44496)

We published “Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer” on 12 January. It sets out a range of actions to improve cancer outcomes, including diagnosing cancer earlier, helping people to live healthier lives to reduce preventable cancers, screening more people, introducing new screening programmes, and ensuring that all patients have access to the best possible treatment, care and support. Through those approaches, we aim to save at least an additional 5,000 lives every year by 2014-15. We will publish annual reports to measure progress on implementation of the strategy.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the establishment of the cancer drugs fund will help the UK to raise its cancer survival rate from among the worst in Europe to potentially one of the very best? [Interruption.]

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to draw attention to that, and it is interesting that a number of Opposition Members are saying that they do not see it as making any contribution whatever to the quality and extension of life. Yes, the funds that the Government provided very early on will be available to ensure that people get access to drugs that have hitherto not been available to them.

The Minister has indicated several times that diagnosing cancer earlier is the solution to the difficulties that we face. What is he going to do to bring that about?

Just a few weeks ago we started a pilot of a national advertising campaign on bowel cancer, with the key message being that people should never feel embarrassed about talking about their poos, so that they get the diagnosis that they need at the earliest opportunity. We are ensuring that such messages get across, even in the Chamber today. We are taking steps to raise awareness so that people get earlier diagnoses.