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Monday, 19 June, 2000, 07:16 GMT 08:16 UK
Call for national cancer agency
Cancer can be treated with chemotherapy
A cancer control agency must be established if the government is to meet its target to save 100,000 lives from cancer by the year 2010, a leading charity has said.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer says such a body - which should have responsibility for all aspects of cancer, including research - is vital to cut deaths.

But it warns that it would require a massive increase in government investment.

Cancer will only be beaten through a long-term commitment to research

Delyth Morgan, Breakthrough Breast Cancer

Chief executive Delyth Morgan said: "The Government has set itself an ambitious target to reduce deaths from cancer.

"However, the measures we have seen so far have focused solely on cancer services rather than a broader commitment which includes research.

"Cancer will only be beaten through a long-term commitment to research."

Ms Morgan said it was vital to develop new methods of prevention, more effective screening and diagnostic procedures and better treatments.

She said: "An adequate research framework within the NHS is needed to ensure patients benefit from developments as quickly as possible.

"Treatment and research strategies must be unified."

The US has already shown that such an agency can play a major strategic role in the fight against cancer

Delyth Morgan, Breakthough Breast Cancer

This could only be done by creating an independent, centrally-funded body with responsibility for the development of a national anti-cancer strategy and co-ordination of research.

"A cancer control agency would have a major impact on cancer research and treatment in the UK.

"It is not an alien concept. The US has already shown that such an agency can play a major strategic role in the fight against cancer.

"Many other countries also have national anti-cancer strategies."

The target of saving 100,000 lives over the next decade was set by Professor Mike Richards, who was appointed to spearhead the government's drive against cancer last October.

Ministers have made reducing deaths from cancer one of its top priorities for the health service.

The NHS has been set the target of seeing all suspected cancer patients within two weeks of referral from a GP.

However, Professor Karol Sikora, former head of the World Health Organisation's cancer programme, has criticised govenment policy as window dressing.

Recent figures also suggest that the UK lags behind the US in success at treating most major cancers.

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See also:

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