There are some cancers which have seen remarkable progress in survivability but others that are just as deadly as they were 40 years ago. Together, six of these cancers make up half of all common cancer deaths in the UK.

This radical new taskforce represents the ‘less survivable cancers’, lung, liver, brain, oesophageal, pancreatic and stomach, all with a five-year survival rate of less than 30% due to a legacy of neglect and underfunding. Formed by charities supporting research into, and patients with, each of these cancers we are calling for these cancers to be prioritised in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

We can reduce the stark inequalities in prognosis between cancers but we urgently need more funding for research and a focus on early diagnosis. If we invest more in less survivable cancers then we believe we can drastically increase life expectancy as well as improve the quality of life of thousands of people.

Recent developments in our campaign

November 2019

  • We published our report on research into the less survivable cancers in November 2019, which was covered in the Daily Mail. The report found that over the last ten years, these 6 less survivable cancers had received a much lower amount of research funding than other cancers.

December 2019

  • We supported the One Cancer Voice manifesto ahead of the 2019 General Election. This called for the next government to commit to improving cancer care. It also noted the variation in cancer survival rates between less survivable cancers and other cancers.

February 2020

  • 57 MPs from all four nations of the UK joined us for an event to show their support for closing the deadly cancer gap on World Cancer Day.
  • Analysis showing that the UK lags behind other countries in terms of treating the less survivable cancers was published in The Telegraph.
  • In a debate in the Scottish Parliament for World Cancer Day, the minister for public health said that the update on the Scottish Cancer Strategy will feature “action around less survivable cancers”. This followed the Cross Party Group on Cancer’s recommendation that the Scottish Government place a particular emphasis on improving outcomes for less survivable cancers.
  • Following on from our report in November we convened a roundtable of researchers and leaders to discuss how we could speed up research into these six less survivable cancers.

April 2020

  • Media outlets covered our concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on people with less survivable cancers. Given the importance of diagnosing these cancers early and treating them quickly, any disruption to cancer treatment could dramatically impact patients’ survival rates.

July 2020

  • Patients, clinicians and member charities held a roundtable with the Scottish Government’s Cancer Policy team to discuss the best ways to improve outcomes for people with less survivable cancers in Scotland.
  • 8 new organisations signed up as registered supporters of the Taskforce.



5-year net survival rates of common cancers by UK country (England, Wales, Scotland and N. Ireland). Analysis and compilation of data for the graphics were performed from data extracted from the following UK cancer registries:

Office for National Statistics, ONS. Cancer survival in England, Wales Cancer Intelligence Network, WCIN. Stats and Data for cancer in Wales, Scotland, ISD. Cancer Statistics in Scotland, Registry, N. Ireland. Official Statistics Northern Ireland, Official Statistics Northern Ireland

If your organisation would be interested in becoming a registered supporter of the Taskforce, get in touch via lesssurvivablecancers@principleconsulting.org.uk.

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