Raise awareness of symptoms

Despite accounting for 51.1% of common cancer deaths  the less survivable cancers still suffer from low awareness amongst the public and health practitioners. Delays in diagnosis have a detrimental effect on survival of these rapidly-advancing diseases, which are currently difficult or impossible to treat at later stages.

How to take action:
  • Read information about symptoms on the Taskforce partners’ websites and share with friends.
  • Ask your Parliamentarians and local healthcare providers to raise awareness of symptoms.


Speed up paths to treatment

If you have a less survivable cancer, you are twice as likely not to be diagnosed until you are in enough pain to go to A&E, compared to someone with a more survivable cancer. Late diagnosis and slow progress to treatment can severely limit treatment options for patients, who then face poorer survival prospects at 12, 24, and 36 months onwards.

To follow the footsteps of more survivable cancers, trials of screening higher-risk individuals and fast-tracking patients with relevant symptoms should take place.

How to take action:
  • Influence practice by getting involved in the governance of your nearest cancer care provider – e.g. as a board member.


Remove barriers to treatments and trials

The investment in innovation needed to increase survival will only occur if funders feel that their pounds will have impact. Evidence shows there are fewer approved trials for less survivable cancers.

Budgeting barriers need to be removed that make treatments such as specialised neuro-rehab available only to a minority. Technology Appraisals need to value relative survival gains as well as absolute, and appreciate the challenges of running trials for diseases with high short-term mortality rates. Only then will life-extending treatments be made available to more patients in need.

How to take action:
  • Back the Taskforce charities’ campaigns to improve access to life extending and improving treatments.


Share data and set Government-backed survival targets for each cancer

For example, NHS England’s first edition Cancer Dashboard currently only offers data for four cancers, and its overall cancer survival ambition is not broken down on a per-cancer basis. Making data available will be critical if we are to track success in improving outcomes for the less survivable cancers.

How to Take action:
  • Call on your Government to share data and set targets, such as on early diagnosis and survival,  for each of the less survivable cancers.


Increase investment in research and improve infrastructure

It is no wonder that cancers with better research funding and infrastructure, such as researcher expertise and biobanking, have seen greater innovations in care and improvements in survival.

Between 2002 and 2014, the less survivable cancers received just 16.6% of research funding of common cancers and became responsible for 51.1% of common cancer deaths in the UK in 2014. Greater research will be critical to increasing survival. Total research funding between 2002 and 2014 for more survivable cancers was 5 times more than it was for less survivable cancers.

These figures were compiled from data received by request privately from NCRI.


If you are interested in finding out more about the less survivable cancers or supporting the work of the Taskforce, please email

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