CancerWith a general election due to take place next year, the cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support have launched a campaign stating what they want the next Government to do to support people affected by cancer.

The charity believes we should act now so everyone with cancer is diagnosed early and receives the best possible treatment and support. They also believe that we should be demanding more health services that support, comfort and protect the dignity of everyone affected. Another aim is to make it possible for each person to die in the place of their choice.

The call to action comes as they release new figures that show that in just two years from now 361,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer each year.

The charity warns the NHS will be pushed to its limit by the soaring numbers of cancer patients unless vital action is taken by the next government and is urgently calling for public support. 

The figures also show that within just two years around 100,000 more people will be diagnosed with cancer each year compared to 20 years ago. In 1996, 263 000 people were diagnosed with cancer and by 2016 this is predicted to grow to a staggering 361 000, equivalent to the entire population of Cardiff being diagnosed each year.2

This year alone the number of English NHS trusts missing the target for access to cancer treatment waiting times has doubled,3 almost a fifth (19%) of cancer patients in England said they felt treated as a ‘set of symptoms’ rather than a person and around 100 people a day died in hospital when they would rather have died at home.4

The charity is urging all parties at Westminster to commit in their manifestos to:
• Delivering cancer survival rates that match the best in Europe
• Protecting the dignity of patients
• Delivering free social care for people at the end of life, to enable them to spend their final weeks and days in the place of their choice.

Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said that the findings are yet more evidence of the frightening magnitude of this disease. “Cracks in the NHS are already beginning to show. Whichever party is voted in at next year’s election, they will face a colossal challenge to make sure the NHS is ready to support the wave of people who will be diagnosed with cancer during their time in power. To avoid a cancer care crisis we must take action as a nation now. We need the public to get behind our campaign and we need political parties to listen to our recommendations and prioritise cancer care in their manifestos for next year’s election. We need to be prepared and get serious about this disease which will touch half of the population.”

The new figures show that, of the 1,000 people diagnosed with cancer a day by the end of 2016, around 830 people will be in England, 90 in Scotland, 50 in Wales and 30 in Northern Ireland.1

The rise in the number of people getting cancer is largely due to people living longer, with around two in three cases diagnosed in people aged 65 or over. This proportion is gradually growing as the population ages.

References
1. Office of National Statistics, http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/re-reference-tables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-352128
2. http://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/category/statistics/provider-waiting-cancer/
3. www.quality-health.co.uk/resources/surveys/national-cancer-experience-survey/2014-national-cancer-patient-experience-survey/2014-national-cancer-patient-experience- survey-national-reports/688-2013-national-cancer-patient-experience-survey-national-report-pdf/file
4. Macmillan Cancer Support. Press release: 36,000 patients denied their last wish to die at home, October 2013