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.

Take action

  • Read our information about symptoms and share with colleagues

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.

Relationship between diagnosis through emergency routes and length of survival. Data combined from the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS), England. Simon, A. E. et al. Knowledge of lung cancer symptoms and risk factors in the U.K.: development of a measure and results from a population-based survey. Thorax 67, 426-432, doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2011-200898 (2012).

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

Take action

  • Read Taskforce charities’ resources, attend their events and contact them to learn share best practice.

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.

Number of clinical trials by cancer type that currently recruit patients in UK. Horizontal dashed lines demonstrate the average number of clinical trials between the more survivable cancers (upper line) and the less survivable cancers (lower line). Taken from CRUK website, ‘Find a clinical trial’,

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.

Take action

  • Ask the responsible bodies in your country to remove barriers to treatments.

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

Take action

  • Ensure that data for less survivable cancers is reliably collected.
  • Urge bodies to set local targets for each cancer.

Increase investment in research and improve infrastructure

Take action

  • Call on the Government to increase research spending on Taskforce cancers.


We need to take action on less survivable cancers now

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