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Health Watchdog Advises a Rethink on NHS Cancer Services

The health watchdog, the King's Fund advises that in view of the recent developments in technology and the ageing population the national strategy for cancer services should// be revised.

This change in track was part of the King’s Fund report that was commissioned by charity Cancer Research UK. They have also called for an examination of the 2000 NHS Cancer Plan to plan for future needs.

Currently over 220,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year in England causing more than 128,000 deaths and the number of new cases is increasing by 1.4 percent a year.

The report shows how technological demographical and policy changes are having significant effects on cancer services. In addition the report pointed out the proportion of over 650s in the population to be 16 percent in 2004 increasing tabout 23 percent by 2031, which thereby increases the number of people who develop cancer in older age.

According to the report better screening, newer treatments, and earlier diagnosis will result in more people living as cancer survivors and this must be reflected in the new NHS Cancer Plan.

King's Fund senior fellow in health policy Dr Rebecca Rosen said, "It is essential that future cancer policy anticipates the challenges and opportunities of people living longer, technological changes and policy shifts throughout the NHS."

Although patient access, better survival rates, and waiting times have already been achieved more work is needed in several areas.

For instance further information was needed on high-cost drugs, on future demand and supply of cancer services, on reducing regional inequalities as well as on moving towards treatment of cancer more in the community than in hospital.

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