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Cancer, Stroke and Heart Disease (Survival Rates)

Volume 556: debated on Tuesday 15 January 2013

Our cancer strategy set out the ambition to save 5,000 lives by 2014-15 through earlier diagnosis, cancer screening and improved access to treatment. We are working on an outcomes strategy for cardiovascular disease.

Will my right hon. Friend tell the House how many patients have benefited from the cancer drugs fund to date?

I am happy to inform my hon. Friend that 25,000 people have benefited to date from the cancer drugs fund, which the previous Government failed to introduce. On top of that, 53,000 more people every year are being admitted for chemotherapy and 219,000 more cancer treatments are happening every year than happened in any year under the last Labour Government.

21. I have previously raised with the Secretary of State the opportunity cost—in terms of cost and effectiveness —of the proton beam therapy system. Given that expert opinion—in the form of the national radiotherapy advisory group—is divided, and given that the cost of the proton beam therapy system is 100 times more than other advanced radiotherapy systems that my region and others lack, why is he proposing to spend £125 million on it? (136853)

I recognise that the hon. Gentleman has a long-standing view on this matter. I am guided by clinical advice. Over the next two years, we will publish the cancer survival rates by multidisciplinary team across the country in all the major cancers for the very first time. That will give us a much better objective base from which we can work out what the most effective treatments are.

20. Despite the fact that the incidence of breast cancer peaks in the 85-plus age group, the peak age for breast surgery is for women in their mid-50s and 60s. Does that not confirm the findings of the Royal College of Surgeons-Age UK report that, despite trends towards older people leading healthier lives, many older women are missing out on curative surgery, from which they are perfectly fit enough to benefit? (136852)

My hon. Friend will know that last October we outlawed age discrimination, and if that is the reason for this happening, it is totally unacceptable. We have to recognise that cancer is one of our biggest killers and that the over-85s are a key group if we are going to tackle it. He will welcome today’s news about making available drugs to tackle breast cancer, which may mean that surgery will no longer be necessary.

19. Will the Minister tell us what the reduction in size of the Department’s cancer policy team will be after April 2013, and whether any of the team’s functions will be removed to other bodies or scrapped? (136851)

We are reducing investment in the back office so we can put more money into the front line. The result is that there are 219,000 more cancer treatments every year than there were under the last year of the Labour Government.