Chris West
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Making the Cancer Taskforce’s recommendations a reality for blood cancer patients

Chris West
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23 Jul 2015

This week, the independent Cancer Taskforce set out the six strategic priorities for achieving world-class cancer outcomes in England. But what does this mean for blood cancer patients, and what are our plans to deliver against these priorities?

Formed by NHS England in January this year, the Cancer Taskforce comprises of representatives from charities, the NHS and health professionals, and was tasked with setting out how services and outcomes can be improved.

In their wide ranging report, they included recommendations to achieve earlier diagnosis, improve care and support for patients living with cancer, higher prevention and speeding up the development and access to new treatments.

These priorities align closely with what we’ve learnt about blood cancer patients through our research into Patient Need.  And with the challenge of delivering these recommendations lying with all organisations in the wider cancer community, our Patient Need work and our planned response means we are already working on how the Taskforce’s recommendations can be delivered for blood cancer patients.

Our Patient Need findings showed which blood cancers are responsible for the most deaths, where deaths happen early, and how some could be prevented by a better understanding of pre-malignant conditions – we are already thinking about how our research could target these areas.  Our understanding of blood cancer means we are at the forefront of precision medicine, making sure patients receive only the specific drugs, in the right combination at the right time that will work for them. Central to this is our work on molecular diagnostics to improve speed and accuracy of diagnosis, laying the foundation of biologically targeted therapies. Our work in CLL and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and in developing Minimal Residual Disease testing and genetic risk stratification for childhood ALL, shows the progress we are making.

The Patient Need research also showed where better patient support is required.  Our forthcoming awareness campaign this September and the launch of our blood cancer signposting service both respond to problems identified by patients around low awareness and the difficulty in accessing accurate and relevant information.

Our own submission to the Taskforce focused on the need for support after hospital care had come to an end – many patients described feeling alone and having “fallen off a conveyor belt” when their initial treatment came to an end.  So we welcome the Taskforce’s priority around supporting patients living with and beyond cancer, are already thinking about how we can deliver what blood cancer patients need.

The Taskforce report clearly sets out where progress needs to be made to improve outcomes for cancer patients.  And for blood cancer patients, we are already working to make this a reality.