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    Support for Cancer Research UK's radiotherapy campaign

31/01/2011

 

Worcester's MP, Robin Walker voiced his support for action on radiotherapy at an awareness-raising Cancer Research UK event in Parliament last week.

 

He heard how radiotherapy has a bigger impact on curing cancers each year than all the new drugs put together. The event, held on Tuesday January 25, coincided with the Government's launch of the National Radiotherapy Awareness Initiative to improve the public's understanding of the importance of radiotherapy.

 

The Worcester MP heard experts describe how a lack of awareness about radiotherapy's importance is having a serious impact on providing world class treatment in the UK. He also attended a briefing with Ministers on progress with the cancer drugs fund.

 

Robin also heard that the delivery of radiotherapy services differs around the country, partly due to the number of machines available and the amount of highly-skilled, sufficiently trained staff needed to deliver this complex service. He has long been supporting Worcestershire's bid to have its own dedicated radiotherapy unit at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital and welcomed news from the local NHS that further progress has been made on this.

 

However he heard that some people are still waiting for too long before receiving their treatment and some cutting-edge radiotherapy treatments, which are available across America and parts of Europe, are not available to all people in certain parts of the country.

 

Robin Walker MP said:

 

"Only 14 per cent of people in the UK are aware that half of all cancer patients could benefit from radiotherapy. I everyone with cancer in Worcester to access world class radiotherapy when they need it. I want to make sure we continue to progress towards having our own radiotherapy centre at the Royal Hospital and I will keep pushing for this to happen."

 

"I am also concerned that the UK is lagging behind other countries in making newer, more targeted radiotherapy technologies available to everyone. I welcome the progress that the Government has made on the cancer drugs fund but I urge the government to work with the NHS and organisations like Cancer Research UK to tackle the inequalities in radiotherapy treatment in this country and make the service amongst the best in Europe."

 

Hilary Tovey, Policy Manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "Cancer Research UK believes that everyone deserves the best cancer treatment. Radiotherapy is one of the cornerstones of cancer treatment, along with surgery and chemotherapy."

 

"We want dedicated radiotherapy staff in place in sufficient numbers and with the right training to deliver the best services. There have been huge advances in radiotherapy in the last decade and we want the best technologies to be available to everyone who needs them."

 

"The demand on radiotherapy services is likely to grow in the future. That's why we are putting our full support behind the work of the National Radiotherapy Awareness Initiative. Cancer Research UK is calling for an action plan for radiotherapy to make sure that all patients have access to the best radiotherapy treatments regardless of where they live."

 

Mrs Tovey added: "MPs have a key role to play in raising awareness of radiotherapy and in urging the government to take action. We are very grateful to Robin Walker MP for helping us to spread this life-saving message."

 

For further information, please contact:

Robin Walker on 01905 22401; or Laura McCann, Cancer Research UK Public Affairs Officer, on 020 3469 8499 laura.mccann@cancer.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

About radiotherapy:

•·         Radiotherapy means the use of 'radiation', usually X-rays, to treat illness.

•·         It can be given in various ways: from outside the body as external radiotherapy, using X-rays, 'cobalt irradiation', electrons and more rarely other particles such as protons; from within the body as internal radiotherapy, by drinking a liquid that is taken up by cancer cells or by putting radioactive material in, or close to, the tumour.

•·         Radiotherapy destroys the cancer cells in the treated area. Although normal cells are also affected by radiation, they are better at repairing themselves than the cancer cells.

  • A course of radiotherapy is usually given over a number of days or weeks. Each treatment is known as a 'fraction'.

•·         A Cancer Research UK report estimates that only 38 per cent of cancer patients in England are getting radiotherapy although research shows that up to 50 per cent might benefit.

•·         Cancer Research UK's pioneering research laid the foundations of modern radiotherapy, from its earliest beginnings to the present day. And, thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we continue to be world leaders in this field.

•·         Research into radiotherapy has declined significantly in the UK in recent years. This is why Cancer Research's five-year research strategy provides greater investment in this area. 

For more information on radiotherapy visit www.cancerhelp.org.uk

 

About Cancer Research UK:

 

  • Cancer Research UK is the world's leading charity dedicated to beating cancer through research.
  • The charity's groundbreaking work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.  This work is funded entirely by the public.
  • Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates double in the last forty years.
  • Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to beat cancer.

 

For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7121 6699 or visit www.cancerresearchuk.org

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