World Cancer Day March 2017

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding World Cancer Day on 4 February 2017 and the related Cancer Research UK campaign. 

I sympathise profoundly with anyone affected by cancer. While there has been some welcome progress in combating the disease in recent years, there is still much more to do. 

Each year around 330,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with cancer and this figure is expected to rise to 425,000 by 2030. World Cancer Day presents us all with an opportunity to raise awareness and pay tribute to the work of Cancer Research UK, which saves lives through vital research. I also recognise the important work that all other cancer charities, including those involved in World Cancer Day, do to help improve cancer outcomes.

Early diagnosis is critical to improving cancer survival, yet it is concerning that Cancer Research UK has warned that pathology services are at a tipping point with a 17% rise in patients waiting at least six weeks for tests.

At the 2015 General Election I stood on a manifesto that pledged to guarantee a maximum one-week wait for cancer tests and to create a new Cancer Treatments Fund to improve access to drugs, radiotherapy and surgery.

Recent statistics show that several of the current Government's key cancer targets are not being met. It is deeply worrying that more than 130,000 patients a year have not been receiving cancer treatment on time because they did not see a cancer specialist within the required 14 days. Cancer care is not immune from the financial crisis facing the NHS and it is clear investment has not kept up with demand and the quality of care is suffering as a result. 

Investment in local screening programmes, awareness campaigns, stop smoking clinics and addressing the burgeoning crisis of obesity can all make a difference to the nation's health. However, the Government has pushed ahead with short-sighted cuts to public health budgets without considering the impact on people's health and our NHS. This is a false economy and I believe the NHS and social care sector must be provided with the funding that is desperately needed. I would also like the Government to get on with delivering on its promise to publish a new tobacco control plan. 

Thank you once again for contacting me and for sharing your views. I will continue to push the Government to do much more to support cancer research, treatment and prevention.