Few re­alise cancer can be man­aged

Fo­cus on cure ‘over­shad­ow­ing’ progress

Yorkshire Post - - FRONT PAGE - ROBYN VINTER SO­CIAL AF­FAIRS COR­RE­SPON­DENT ■ Email: robyn.vinter@ypn.co.uk ■ Twit­ter: @york­shire­post

HEALTH: The em­pha­sis on find­ing a cure for cancer has over­shad­owed the huge ad­vances made, so few re­alise it is a dis­ease that can be man­aged for years, a sur­vey has re­vealed.

The In­sti­tute of Cancer Re­search (ICR) has pointed out that sur­vival times from cancer have roughly dou­bled in a decade.

LESS THAN a third of the pub­lic be­lieve that cancer is a dis­ease that can be man­aged for years, a sur­vey for cancer ex­perts has re­vealed.

The In­sti­tute of Cancer Re­search (ICR) has warned that fo­cus­ing ex­clu­sively on find­ing a cure is over­shad­ow­ing “huge” progress al­ready be­ing made al­low­ing those with ad­vanced cancer to live longer.

Sur­vival time from cancer has roughly dou­bled in a decade, and the av­er­age pa­tient now lives more than 10 years af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed.

How­ever, just 28 per cent of peo­ple be­lieve the dis­ease can be con­trolled in the long term, ac­cord­ing to the ICR-com­mis­sioned YouGov poll of the pub­lic and cancer pa­tients.

In com­par­i­son, 46 per cent of peo­ple said they be­lieved heart dis­ease can be man­aged in the long term, and 77 per cent said the same for di­a­betes.

The ICR’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Pro­fes­sor Paul Work­man, said: “We be­lieve it’s vi­tal that we can take the pub­lic on this jour­ney with us, by un­der­stand­ing that cancer is a hugely com­plex and evolv­ing dis­ease, and that we need to move be­yond the old, bi­nary ‘cure or noth­ing’ think­ing to find in­no­va­tive new ways of treat­ing the dis­ease that can give peo­ple a longer and bet­ter life.

“The good news is thanks to re­search, we are al­ready mak­ing

great progress against cancer, with dis­eases that just a few years ago were lethal, now in­creas­ingly man­age­able for pa­tients long term. If we can fin­ish off cancer evo­lu­tion, we will ef­fec­tively fin­ish cancer.”

Pro­fes­sor Paul Work­man, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the In­sti­tute of Cancer Re­search.

The sur­vey, of 2,103 mem­bers of pub­lic and 366 pa­tients which is pub­lished to­day, also found only 25 per cent of peo­ple think progress against cancer is be­ing made.

The ICR is call­ing for more at­ten­tion to be given to cancer’s abil­ity to re­sist treat­ment, so that more peo­ple can live longer and sur­vive cancer.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion said cures are not yet pos­si­ble for many peo­ple with ad­vanced cancer, but per­son­alised treat­ment is greatly ex­tend­ing their lives.

Only half of peo­ple ques­tioned cancer evo­lu­tion and drug re­sis­tance as one of the big­gest chal­lenges in cancer re­search and treat­ment.

And a third of the pub­lic and pa­tient groups both wrongly be­lieved that be­ing given the “al­lclear” means the dis­ease has been cured, when it ac­tu­ally means it is un­de­tectable at present but could re­turn.

The ICR is launch­ing the world’s first “Dar­winian” drug dis­cov­ery pro­gramme within its new cancer cen­tre, aimed at in­creas­ing the pro­por­tion of pa­tients whose dis­ease can be con­trolled long term.

Bar­bara Ritchie Lines un­der­went eight years of treat­ment af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with breast cancer in 2005. Her cancer is now un­de­tectable.

She said: “When I first got di­ag­nosed, I was told that I had maybe only 12 months, but it’s been 14 years, and here I am. Cancer doesn’t have to be the end – it can be the start of a whole new life.”

We are al­ready mak­ing great progress against cancer.

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