Scientists react to Cancer Research UK’s manifesto for cancer research and care.
Prof Bernard Rachet, Professor of Cancer Epidemiology and Lead for the Inequalities in Cancer Outcomes Network (ICON) at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), said:
“CRUK’s Manifesto and suggestion for a new National Cancer Council is a real opportunity to reduce avoidable life losses, improve patients’ lives and prevent future cancers.
“While overall cancer outcomes have improved over recent decades, there is still an unacceptable gap between the outcomes of the richest and the poorest.
“The next UK Government urgently needs to take a much more active role in prioritising and mobilising action to reduce inequalities along the entire cancer pathway and achieve world-class outcomes for all.”
Professor Richard Sullivan, Director of the Institute of Cancer Policy and Co-Director of the Centre for Conflict & Health Research at King’s College London, said:
“This manifesto is laudable in its aims but needs some subtle changes if we are to realistically avoid 20,000 cancer-related deaths a year by 2040.
“The research and development landscape is already dominated by discovery science and biopharmaceutical research, so our focus shouldn’t be on the funding gap, but toward implementation science, health services research and orphan funding domains like palliative care and surgery.
“The inequalities we see will be resolved by more than just screening and early diagnostic technologies. Most of these inequalities are due to fundamental differences in the social determinants of health – and the future governments need to prioritise public and social health.
“Innovation isn’t the end-all solution, especially when many of the problems we have in the NHS stem from new technologies are being brought in too quickly without sufficient evidence base to support clinically meaningful benefit. We need to intelligently deliver new treatments and deliver better what we already have. But to do this requires a change in mindset of how we conduct good research rather than constantly focusing on the ‘new’.”
Prof Stephen Duffy, Centre Lead, Centre for Prevention, Detection and Diagnosis, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), said:
“The proposals in the manifesto are clearly worthwhile and would bear fruit in terms of reduced cancer suffering and mortality. It should also be remembered that there are major inequalities to address. For example, more deprived people have worse cancer outcomes. When major investments in healthcare are proposed, there are always arguments about affordability. A good principle should be that if an intervention cannot be universally introduced, then at least introduce it where it is most needed, that is target those populations with poorest cancer outcomes first. This would be both good health economics and good for health equity.”
“Longer, better lives – a manifesto for cancer research and care” was published at 00.01 UK time on Tuesday 28 November 2023.
Prof Stephen Duffy: No conflicts.
Professor Richard Sullivan: No conflicts of interest.
Prof Bernard Rachet: ICON is funded by CRUK.