The i newspaper reports that figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed that the number of new cases of cancer in England are the highest on record. In 2015 there were 299,923 new cancer diagnoses registered, the equivalent of 822 a day.
Caroline Moye, head of the World Cancer Research Fund, said:
“With around half of cancer cases being attributed to some of the most preventable cancers, it is more important than ever to take cancer prevention seriously. Cancer cases are predicted to continue to rise. However, this doesn’t need to be the case. A third of the most common cancers could be prevented by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and doing more physical activity.”
NHS England has published the latest cancer waiting times for the third quarter of 2016/17.
Sky News reported that targets were missed in the category 'two month (62 day) wait from urgent GP referral to first definitive treatment'. 82.2 per cent of people began their first treatment within 62 days. This falls below the previous quarter result of 82.3 per cent and the specified target of 85 per cent.
It is the third year in a row that the specified target has not been met and means that more than 70,000 people in this time have not received their first treatment within 62 days.
Experts have forecast that over the next 20 years cancer rates will increase nearly six times faster in women than in men. The cause is partly linked to the impact of obesity-related cancers, of which a number only affect women.
The research, published by Cancer Research UK, indicates that ovarian, cervical and oral cancers will rise the most. Rates of cancer for men are predicted to increase at 0.5 per cent while for women they will rise at three per cent.
This rising trend in cancer rates is linked to increasing rates of obesity with two thirds of adults now overweight or obese.
Sarah Toule, head of health information at the World Cancer Research Fund, said "“It is concerning that rates are predicted to rise so sharply in women, especially as so many cancer cases could be prevented,”
“For example, about two in five breast cancer cases in the UK could be prevented if women maintained a healthy weight, were more physically active and didn’t drink alcohol – that’s around 20,000 fewer cases a year. Other cancers that could be reduced by women having a healthier lifestyle include womb and ovary.”
A study, from University College London and University of Edinburgh, has shown that higher levels of psychological distress, such as anxiety and depression, can be associated with an increased risk of certain cancers. However, the findings are observational so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect.
Researchers analysed data from 16 studies between 1994 and 2008. This totalled 163,363 men and women, over the age of 16, who were cancer free before the study started. Their psychological distress scores were determined using the general health questionnaire with participants monitored for an average of nine and a half years. During the course of the study 4,353 people died from cancer.
The study's lead author, Dr David Batty, from University College London said the, "findings contribute to the evidence that poor mental health might have some predictive capacity for certain physical diseases but we are a long way off from knowing if these relationships are truly causal."
The BBC has reported on senior doctors' concerns about the number of cancelled cancer operations due to bed shortages this winter.
The vice-president of the Royal College of Surgeons, Ian Eardley, told the BBC that the NHS is "pulling out all of the stops" to treat patients "as quickly as possible".
Cancer guidelines indicate that a patient should receive primary treatment within 62 days. The most recent figures for NHS waiting times, in November 2016, show that 83.5 per cent of patients were treated with 62 days, below the 85 per cent target. Mr Eardley indicated that "it's been more difficult to achieve," in the past year.
Mr Eardley's comments echo those of the President of the Royal College of Surgeons, Clare Marx, who told the Observer, that since January "a large number of hospitals across the UK are now cancelling cancer surgery. It is heartbreaking for a surgeon to have to explain to a patient who has cancer that their operation has had to be cancelled as there are no beds available.”
On Wednesday the NHS Confederation announced Niall Dickson as its new Chief Executive.
A former Editor at Nursing Times and Social Affairs Editor at the BBC, Mr Dickson headed the King’s Fund from 2004-2009, and subsequently the General Medical Council (GMC) from 2010 to the end of 2016. He joins former health minister and NHS Confederation Chair Stephen Dorrell at the top of the organisation and replaces interim Chief Executive Stephen Dalton. Mr Dickson will begin his new role on 1 February.
Commenting on his appointment Mr Dickson said, "It’s a great privilege to join the Confederation as it works with its members and partners to deliver better, safer care and the fundamental reforms that are needed to make the system sustainable. The health and social care system is under massive strain facing unprecedented demand and severely constrained funding. These are monumental challenges and there has never been a more important time for its various parts to come together locally and nationally."
The NHS Confederation's announcement can be read here. A Health Service Journal (HSJ) (£) article on the appointment is available to read here, with further details expected to be available in due course.
Lord O'Shaughnessy appointed as new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health
The Government has announced that Lord O'Shaughnessy (Con) has been appointed as the new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health. Lord O'Shaughnessy replaces Lord Prior of Brampton (Con), who moves to become Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Lord O'Shaughnessy was raised to the peerage in 2015 and served as David Cameron's Director of Policy at No.10 for four years.
As Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, Lord O'Shaughnessy will lead on a range of policy areas, with the following particularly relevant to cancer services:
Cancer Drugs Fund
Medicines and industry
Uptake of new drugs and medical technologies
Life sciences industry
Reducing clinical variation
Academic health science centres
The Government's press release can be found here. The Independent has also reported on the appointment here.
NHS England has detailed the progress it has made in implementing the Cancer Strategy in a recent board paper. Examples given of progress made in the last year include:
- The establishment of 16 Cancer Alliances
- The announcement of a £130 million investment in new radiotherapy equipment over the next two years
- Reforms to the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF)
- Testing of a new 28-day Faster Diagnosis Standard in five areas of the country
- The launch of a new Cancer Dashboard with data and intelligence about performance and patient outcomes, in one place
£200 million of funding will be made available to Cancer Alliances over the next two years, to drive faster and earlier diagnosis, implement the Recovery Package and roll out "stratified follow-up pathways".
The 16 Cancer Alliances and three National Cancer Vanguards are grouped into four regions:
- North East and Cumbria
- Lancashire and South Cumbria
- Cheshire and Merseyside
- West Yorkshire
- Humber, Coast and Vale
- South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw
- National Cancer Vanguard: Greater Manchester
- Midlands and East
- West Midlands
- East Midlands
- East of England
- Thames Valley
- Kent and Medway
- Surrey and Sussex
- Somerset, Wiltshire, Avon & Gloucestershire
- South East London
- National Cancer Vanguard: UCLH partners
- National Cancer Vanguard: Royal Marsden partners
The full Board paper can be viewed here.
On Thursday 8 December MPs debated the Cancer Strategy: One Year On, in a General Debate in the House of Commons.
The debate was scheduled by the Backbench Business Committee following representation from John Baron MP (Con, Basildon and Billericay), who also holds the position of Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer (APPGC).
Vice-Chair of the APPGC, Nik Dakin MP (Lab, Scunthorpe) led the debate. Mr Dakin opened proceedings by informing the House that more than 2.4 million people in the UK currently lived with cancer. He then discussed the significant developments in cancer policy over the past two years, highlighting that, since the strategy was last debated in November 2015, NHS England had published its implementation plan for the cancer strategy , in which it set out how it would roll out the 96 recommendations.
Other key points raised in the debate include the need for:
- Cancer patients to have timely access to mental health services
- Continued progress on early diagnosis, welcoming commitments made by Simon Stevens at Britain Against Cancer this week
- Careful consideration about the impact of proposed changes to the highly specialised technologies threshold on rarer cancers
- Continued action in public health initiatives, including smoking cessation campaigns
- Investment in radiotherapy services
- Continued debate on this topic
A full transcript of the debate can be read here.
On Thursday 8 December MPs will debate the Cancer Strategy: One Year On, in a General Debate in the House of Commons.
This debate was scheduled by the Backbench Business Committee following representation from John Baron MP, who also holds the position of Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer (APPGC).
MPs will have an opportunity to debate the progress of the Cancer Strategy report, published in July 2015, and the accompanying implementation plan, published in May 2016. The debate follows the APPGC publishing the report of its inquiry into the progress in implementing the Cancer Strategy, in September 2016. The APPGC report can be accessed here.
Details of the debate can be found here.