The UK must increase the provision of radiotherapy if it is to bridge the gap between leading countries in the delivery of the most advanced and effective cancer care.
New analysis from Action Radiotherapy released today shows that 24,000 people in the UK are missing out on vital radiotherapy due to a lack of funding and inadequate coordination of oncology care. The release of this analysis coincides with the launch of a new campaign, Radiotherapy4Life, backed by Action Radiotherapy, that will highlight the crisis and identify solutions.
The campaign is calling for an increase in the cancer budget for radiotherapy from 5% to 6.5% with a one-off ring fenced investment of £250 million to provide comprehensive regional access to radiotherapy, a further £100 million a year ongoing investment in staff and IT infrastructure and the establishment of a radiotherapy tsar.
After many years being behind the game, the UK is now on the cusp of a transformational change for cancer patients in the UK. Technical advances over the last 10 years, including the development of both private and public high energy proton beam therapy facilities, have transformed the way radiotherapy can precisely target tumours, increasing cure rates with fewer side effects and often with shorter treatment courses.
The development of new facilities providing advanced cancer treatment and accelerated diagnostic services will be important initial steps in helping to improve cancer survival rates in the UK, which have historically lagged behind European and North American countries.
Professor Karol Sikora, Chief Medical Officer at the Rutherford Cancer Centres, said:
"The provision of radiotherapy at an adequate level will not fall neatly into the private or public silos. The demand will be too widespread. What really matters is creating the facilities that will deliver for patients. That requires all treatment centres to have multi-disciplinary clinical teams, the involvement of academic and technological leaders and the best research projects. Most of all, they have to provide integrated care for the patient and lead to enhanced outcomes for UK cancer patients."