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Better Cancer Care, An Action Plan

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Foreword by Dr Harry Burns

Harry Burns photoScotland's cancer record continues to improve and we are seeing significantly increasing survival rates for many cancers. Better Cancer Care sets out opportunities for us all to take actions which may reduce our chances of being diagnosed with cancer. Smoking, obesity, alcohol, sunburn and a poor diet all contribute to the risk of cancer. Since 2003, there have been improvements in cancer survival for those living in poorer areas. Nevertheless, deprivation remains one of the key risk factors for cancer. Uptake of screening programmes for cancer among those living in deprived areas is lower than those who live in wealthier areas.

In addition, there is a need to focus on the quality of care we are providing to the people of Scotland - this encompasses clinical outcomes, improving the way people experience care and ensuring that we spend NHS resources in the best way possible to meet the needs of those with cancer and their carers.

The next decade will see continued research into the causes and treatments for cancer and this plan sets out how we can support this process in Scotland. We want to ensure that our services are world-class and this plan sets out a number of ways to achieve this. We need to ensure our workforce is highly skilled and responsive to the needs of patients. There will be new ways of delivering services which we need to take full advantage of to improve patient care.

The delivery of this ambitious plan requires joint working at national, regional and local level. I have asked Dr Aileen Keel CBE to chair the new Scottish Cancer Taskforce that will oversee the delivery of this plan and I am determined that medical professionals across our country continue to provide clear clinical leadership as we implement its recommendations. Success will, of course, depend upon much broader cooperation. Patients, carers, NHSScotland, local authorities, universities, the Scottish Government, Royal Colleges and the voluntary sector all have a critical role to play. By working together we can address those cancers that can be prevented, detect cancers as soon as possible, provide high quality diagnosis, referral, treatment and follow up and support the ever increasing number of people in Scotland who are living with and beyond cancer.

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Dr Harry Burns
Chief Medical Officer