Supporting patients on World Cancer Day

This week I am writing my column ahead of World Cancer Day, which takes place on Monday 4th February. Organisations such as Cancer Research UK, from more than 160 countries, join together to take action against this disease.

In Parliament I have continued to pursue the concerns of Crawley residents, including those who have been affected directly by cancer. In recent weeks I told the Health & Social Care Secretary of the importance of working alongside our country’s leading cancer charities, and before Christmas I led a House of Commons debate on how we can improve cancer care.

Surrey and Sussex is one of five Cancer Alliance areas highlighted by the Teenage Cancer Trust where five-year cancer survival of 13-24 year olds improved significantly from 2001-05 to 2007-11. The same report also stated that the largest reduction in mortality between 2001 and 2015 has been in leukaemia, one of the most common forms of blood cancer.

While any patient would want to be diagnosed as soon as possible, one in six blood cancer patients have to visit their doctor three or more times before diagnosis. Through earlier diagnosis and improved support for our GPs, we can see some blood cancers detected earlier leading to more lives being saved.

With earlier diagnosis, we can see such progress continue, as well as improved survival rates across more types of cancer.

The NHS Long-Term Plan, published at the start of the year, includes a flagship ambition to improve cancer survival rates across the board, recognising the need for quicker diagnoses as well as more personalised treatments.

It also sets out that all children with cancer are to be offered whole genome sequencing; where the DNA sequence of a child’s cancer can be read and used to find the most effective treatment.

The Long-Term Plan also includes the aim of dramatically increasing the proportion of cancers diagnosed at an early stage, from around half now to three quarters of cancer patients by 2028.

In ten years’ time, these reforms could see 55,000 more people survive cancer each year.

Henry Smith MP