On Cancer Foreword

Michelle Mitchell, CEO, Cancer Research UK

On Cancer publication front cover


Michelle Mitchell, CEO, Cancer Research UK

One in two of us born since 1960 will hear the words “you have cancer”. None of us live a life unaffected by cancer in some way. It is a disease of extraordinary complexity, but through research, we are slowly unravelling its complexity and unlocking better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat it.

Thanks to research, more people now survive cancer than die from it. This is the result of immense effort and collaboration and is progress we should all be proud of. But we cannot be complacent. Cancer outcomes in the UK lag behind comparable countries and there are still profound inequalities across the cancer pathway. We are simply not satisfied with the rate of progress we see in cancer – and we must demand better.

We feel particular urgency following the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a devastating impact on people affected by cancer. Thousands of people have faced delays to screening appointments, investigations, treatment and clinical trials. We fear that the pandemic will have a long tail of impact on cancer – in terms of the direct effect on people diagnosed with cancer, by worsening inequalities, and in the longer term through the financial impact on funders of cancer research.

This timely publication offers several solutions, on both the interventions that will improve outcomes in the immediate term, as well as the research that will drive long-term progress.

On Cancer covers several themes that will be central to our future progress against cancer – including cancer prevention, early detection and equitable access to advanced treatments and technologies. This collection also presents tangible recommendations about how the outlook for people affected by cancer could be improved.

But it also presents a hopeful vision for our future, a world where the burden of cancer is greatly reduced. Research is the key to improving outcomes in the longterm, and there is great scientific promise ahead. New techniques, technology, and data are revolutionising what’s possible, and will allow us to make faster progress in the decades ahead than the decades past. This future is not guaranteed – it will take focus, collaboration and funding. But it is possible, and it is one that we must all work towards.

If we realise this vision, we would make an incredible difference to the lives of the millions of people affected by cancer each year. We would also bring immense benefit to the UK economically, fulfilling the UK’s potential as a leading destination for world-class science.

It is my great pleasure to introduce On Cancer, which is yet another chapter in Policy@Manchester, The University of Manchester and the Manchester Cancer Research Centre’s contribution to this critical area. It is my hope that this publication will galvanise interest and debate amongst policymakers and the broader cancer community – people affected by cancer, researchers, and everyone who shares a desire to make progress against this disease.

On Cancer

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Disadvantage and disease: Finding solutions to inequalities in cancer

Dr Philip Crosbie, Dr Suzanne Johnson, Professor David Shackley


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Cancer Research UK

Navigate to Cancer Research UK'd homepage to find out more about the charity.

Cancer Beacon

Navigate to the University of Manchester's Cancer Beacon page.