Cancer: Health Education

Department of Health written question – answered on 2nd July 2015.

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Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party, Foyle

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what recent conversations he has had with Health Ministers in the devolved administrations to improve awareness of (a) pancreatic cancer and (b) other types of cancer across the UK; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps he is taking to ensure earlier diagnosis of pancreatic cancer; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party, Foyle

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps he is taking to improve public awareness of pancreatic cancer.

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

Early diagnosis of cancer including for those with pancreatic cancer is a major priority for this Government in helping us to improve cancer survival. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence published an updated guideline “Suspected cancer: recognition and referral” on 23 June 2015. The guideline reflects latest evidence and will continue to support general practitioners to identify patients, including those with symptoms of suspected pancreatic cancer, and urgently refer them as appropriate.

In England, to support early diagnosis of cancer, we have invested over £22 million in Be Clear on Cancer campaigns between 2010-11 and 2014-15, to raise awareness of various cancer types and encourage people with relevant cancer symptoms to visit their doctor promptly. Public Health England working with the Department, NHS England and other partners will continue to keep these campaigns under review to see and work with relevant experts to see what might be done to tackle other cancers.

Research and evidence of best practice is shared widely across the United Kingdom. However, as health is a devolved matter Ministers do not routinely discuss health issues with their counterparts.

More generally, NHS England is working jointly with Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support to test seven new approaches to identifying cancer more quickly. The aim is to evaluate a number of initiatives across more than 60 sites around the country to collect evidence about what makes the most difference to patients.

In January 2015, NHS England announced an independent Cancer Taskforce to develop a five-year strategy for England which will recommend improvements across the cancer pathway, including awareness and early diagnosis. The strategy will be published in the summer.

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