There are now 2.5 million people living with or beyond cancer in the United Kingdom. By the year 2030 this figure could be as high as 4 million – the product of ten-year survival rates more than doubling since the 1970s. However, this should not obscure two important challenges. First, that despite the upward trajectory of UK cancer survival rates, our cancer outcomes still lag behind most comparable European countries. Second, that as more and more people survive cancer, the main thrust of cancer policy must also change.
This report, supported by Pfizer, aims to explore this multifaceted cost of cancer and document the impact it has upon all the lives it touches – patients, survivors, carers and family members. We attempt to capture the full nature of that cost for the first time, bringing the lived experience of those affected by cancer to the public policy debate.
The report argues we now need a much greater emphasis on supporting families through their journey with cancer. It is no longer acceptable to view cancer policy predominantly, if not exclusively, through a healthcare lens. With more people surviving, our support systems – whether they are in state, market or society – need to catch up with the modern reality of cancer as a survivable, rather than a terminal illness. Policymakers now need to focus on a simple question: how can we help those affected by cancer – patients, families and communities – to live freer and more fulfilling lives?