COVID-19 and the less survivable cancers
This is an enormously difficult time for our health service and everyone involved in the fight against the virus. The situation is critical for people with existing health conditions, including cancer, making them particularly vulnerable to Covid-19.
Our 6 member charities have information on their websites and helplines with information specific to the less survivable cancers:

We want close the deadly cancer gap

The six less survivable cancers (lung, pancreatic, liver, brain, oesophageal and stomach) are responsible for a half of all deaths from common cancers and make up a quarter of cancer cases.

People diagnosed with these cancers have a shockingly low life expectancy. Today, on average, the chance of someone surviving for five years after being diagnosed with one of these cancers is only 14%. That’s nearly four times lower than it is for patients diagnosed with other common cancers. This is the deadly cancer gap.

These cancers have not seen the same improvements in survival rates that other cancers have in the last forty years. The Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce brings together six charities representing patients from each of these cancers to call for urgent change. Through more research, better treatment and earlier diagnosis, we can close the deadly cancer gap.

Currently, in the UK over 80,000 people are diagnosed with one of the less survivable cancers every year. By doubling the average 5-year survival rate for these six cancers to 28%, we would save 10,000 people each year.

To do this we need the government to prioritise less survivable cancers to give these cancers the improvements in prognosis other cancers have seen in the last 40 years.

In recent years there have been seen signs of progress with NHS England piloting lung health checks to detect lung cancer earlier and the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission investing in research in brain cancer. Progress is possible, but we need governments across the UK to fully prioritise less survivable cancers to give these cancers the improvements in prognosis other cancers have seen.

Support our campaign

Your support can help us close the deadly cancer gap:

  • Sharing your support via social media. Make sure to tag us at @LessSurvivable and use the hashtag #DeadlyCancerGap.
  • Reading and sharing our latest report on the factors delaying research into less survivable cancers here.
  • Contacting us to see how else you can help. The Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce team can help you write to your MP or take other steps to support our campaign.

To contact us, please email:


We need to take action on less survivable cancers now.

If you are a third sector or other expert organisation interested in being involved, please contact us. Membership of the Taskforce consists of founding partners, but there will be opportunities for other organisations to partner with the Taskforce at a future time.

The Taskforce is funded primarily by its founding partners, with administration shared amongst each. Please consider funding the Taskforce’s work by donating to one or more of the partners. Note that, whilst the Taskforce may receive contributions from the pharmaceutical industry, a strict ethical code is applied in order to maintain independence. If you would like to know more about this policy, please contact us.

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