The future of cancer care in the UK-time for a radical and sustainable National Cancer Plan

Ajay Aggarwal, Ananya Choudhury, Nicola Fearnhead, Pam Kearns, Anna Kirby, Mark Lawler, Sarah Quinlan, Carlo Palmieri, Tom Roques, Richard Simcock, Fiona M Walter, Pat Price, Richard Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer affects one in two people in the UK and the incidence is set to increase. The UK National Health Service is facing major workforce deficits and cancer services have struggled to recover after the COVID-19 pandemic, with waiting times for cancer care becoming the worst on record. There are severe and widening disparities across the country and survival rates remain unacceptably poor for many cancers. This is at a time when cancer care has become increasingly complex, specialised, and expensive. The current crisis has deep historic roots, and to be reversed, the scale of the challenge must be acknowledged and a fundamental reset is required. The loss of a dedicated National Cancer Control Plan in England and Wales, poor operationalisation of plans elsewhere in the UK, and the closure of the National Cancer Research Institute have all added to a sense of strategic misdirection. The UK finds itself at a crossroads, where the political decisions of governments, the cancer community, and research funders will determine whether we can, together, achieve equitable, affordable, and high-quality cancer care for patients that is commensurate with our wealth, and position our outcomes among the best in the world. In this Policy Review, we describe the challenges and opportunities that are needed to develop radical, yet sustainable plans, which are comprehensive, evidence-based, integrated, patient-outcome focused, and deliver value for money.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e6-e17
Number of pages12
JournalLancet Oncology
Early online date14 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2024


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