Cancer strategy: consultation analysis

Responses to our consultation on a new cancer strategy which sought views on areas to prioritise in relation to cancer prevention, management and care. Responses were analysed in order to provide a transparent evidence base to the government.

Question 11

Under Safe, effective treatments, we are considering:

  • Surgery
  • Radiotherapy
  • Systemic anti-cancer treatment
  • Acute oncology
  • Realistic medicine
  • Consent

Do you agree with these areas of focus?

Figure 9. Share of Yes/No responses to Question 11
The graph depicts 96% of respondents answering Yes and 4% of respondents answering No.

There was a high level of support for the proposed areas of focus among respondents: 96% of respondents agreed with the areas of focus, while 4% did not agree. Respondents were also asked to provide any comments on their response, and the key themes raised in responses are covered below. There were two open-format questions on the areas of focus for safe, effective treatments:

  • 150 responses to the first question ("In your experience, what aims or actions would you like to see under any of these areas? Please focus your response on treatment."): 79 from individuals and 71 from organisations.
  • 89 responses to the second question ("Please explain your answer and provide any additional suggestions."): 38 from individuals and 51 from organisations.

Specific treatments to prioritise

The most common theme identified within this set of responses was where respondents would specify a treatment out of the examples given to prioritise within the new cancer strategy. Systemic anti-cancer treatment was most commonly spoken about followed by acute oncology and realistic medicine, surgery (including calls for further developments in robotic surgeries) and radiotherapy. Out of the examples provided respondents discussed consent the least within their responses.

Respondents often commented on ways to improve these treatments such as expanding capacity and increasing accessibility and they suggested preparing resources to cope with an increased demand for treatments such as investing in infrastructure and training the workforce.

Patient-centred treatments

The next most frequently cited theme was the need for all treatments to be patient-centred. This included the need for treatment plans to be personalised and individual with patients involved in making decisions and able to provide informed consent.

"Person centred care is what it is all about. You are treated as an individual and not merely another patient with cancer." (Individual response)

"I felt like I was not very involved in decisions about my treatment and no one had the time to talk in depth." (Individual response)

To do so, respondents suggested that information about treatments and potential side effects should be accessible, and patients should be given options for different treatments. Respondents also wanted better mental health support for patients during treatment and post-treatment.

"I think looking at the treatment options are important to give patients the best possible care." (Individual response)

Innovative treatments

Another common theme identified regarded the importance of continuous development of new and unconventional treatments. Respondents frequently spoke about the increased use of natural and combination therapies as being beneficial for cancer patients.

"There are emerging treatments that become available too late for a lot of people sadly – these should be discussed openly and whether they are available through any active research proposals/trials during early treatment discussions." (Individual response)

Respondents also felt that any advancements in treatments would need to be supported by research evidence and suggested that an increased number of clinical trials would assist with this.

"Changes in cancer treatments are evidence based, driven by high quality clinical trials. It is essential that we invest in and promote research across the NHS. […]" (Organisation response)

Accessibility of treatments

Lastly, the accessibility of treatments was the next most common theme. Respondents were concerned over issues surrounding accessibility of treatments and spoke about an unequal distribution of specialist cancer services that provide the most effective treatments leading cancer patients to travel extensively for the best care.

Respondents commonly suggested that an increased number of community-based treatment options would be beneficial.

"We would like to see an ambition to ensure that any patient, regardless of where they live, can access all treatments that are clinically beneficial for them. Although some treatments are focussed on a small number of centres of excellence, this should not make a difference in patients being able to access them, if they are prepared to travel to do so. In addition, we would hope this would drive expansion of the services so that they would become more widely available. […]" (Organisation response)



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