MPs Debate the England Cancer Strategy | Breast Cancer UK

MPs Debate the England Cancer Strategy

Published 9 Dec 2016

The England Cancer Strategy

Yesterday MPs debated the England Cancer Strategy one year on from its publication. You can watch the debate on Parliament TV (it starts at 14:48:18).

What is the Strategy? It outlines how the Government and the NHS can improve cancer services. It has targets on cancer prevention, early diagnosis, patient experience, and caring for those with cancer and who survive cancer. These are all important and challenging areas, at a time when the NHS is under financial strain.

On cancer prevention, the Strategy calls for a “radical upgrade in prevention and public health”. We couldn’t agree more. Incidence rates for breast cancer have more than doubled in one generation [1]. We can do far more to tackle the role of alcohol, obesity, and exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. As the Strategy says: “It is within our control to prevent many cases of cancer and we should seize this opportunity.”

Unfortunately, the Strategy falls short of its promise for radical action.

The Strategy includes a limited set of targets on lifestyle risk factors, such as alcohol consumption, smoking and obesity, but it does not address other risk factors, such as environmental pollution or exposure to harmful chemicals.

MPs debate the Strategy

We asked MPs to raise the issue of prevention in the debate (you can read our briefing for MPs). Jo Churchill MP spoke in the debate and made the good point that co-ordinated action across Government departments is needed to help us all live healthier lives and help prevent cancer. Other MPs highlighted the need for stronger action to reduce the number of people who smoke.

However, there are so many challenges in tackling cancer to be discussed that cancer prevention did not get the attention we wanted it to. There is no doubt that we need action on prevention, as the Strategy says: “We will not be able to sustain comprehensive health and social care coverage unless we take more concerted action on prevention.” We now need policymakers to act.

We need to see the radical action on cancer prevention that the Strategy promised, but doesn’t deliver.

You can write to your MP and help us make sure that they know, urgent action on cancer prevention is needed now.



[1] Cancer Registration Statistics, England: 2014:  accessed 27/05/16

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