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Monday, 3 December, 2001, 14:58 GMT
Ministers claim cancer progress
The government is investing in modern equipment
One year after the launch of the government's 'crusade against cancer' it says that significant progress has been made.

The NHS Cancer Plan, unveiled in October 2000, set a series of targets on waiting times, the replacement of ageing equipment, and expansion of cancer screening programmes.

Now the government's "cancer czar", Professor Mike Richards, has detailed the progress made towards these in recent months.

There have been many real and measurable improvements in the standard and delivery of care

Professor Mike Richards, National Cancer Director
The plan sets a target of 1,000 extra cancer consultants by 2006, and ministers say they are on target to reach this, having already recruited 400 more consultants compared to 1999.

In addition, with the extension of breast screening to 65 to 70-year-old women, an extra 50,000 women are now being invited for mammography.

The plan says that no-one should have to wait more than two weeks for a specialist appointment after an urgent referral from their GP.

One month wait

At the moment, 92.4% of such patients are being seen within this period, although the target of achieving this by December 2000 has not yet been reached.

modern radiotherapy
Radiotherapy machines have been replaced
In addition, from next month, there will be a maximum of one month's wait between urgent referral for children's cancer, testicular cancer and leukaemia and the start of treatment.

The government's investment in new cancer equipment has meant that 30% of CT scanners, 23% of MRI scanners and 19% of linear accelerator radiotherapy machines have been replaced since January 2000.

Professor Richards said: "There have been many real and measurable improvements in the standard and delivery of care.

"By 2003/4 the NHS will be spending 570m a year more on cancer services than it was in 2000/01."


Leading doctors are supportive of the government's efforts.

Professor Gordon McVie, director general of the Cancer Research Campaign, said: "Whilst we still have a long way to go, in cancer research we are already seeing the benefits of better partnership between the cancer research charities, the government and industry."

Peter Cardy, the chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Relief, said: "The challenge now is to maintain the positive momentum of the past year."

See also:

13 Sep 01 | Health
Cancer trials in jeopardy
27 Feb 01 | Health
Big rise in cancer cases
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