Focus on finding cancer cure 'overshadowing progress made in prolonging lives'

Cancer research has meant survival time has roughly doubled in just a decade, yet people's focus still tends to be on finding a 'cure'
Jemma Crew (PA)

LESS than a third of the public believe cancer is a disease that can be managed for years, a survey for cancer experts suggests.

Focusing exclusively on finding a cure is overshadowing "huge" progress already being made allowing those with advanced cancer to live longer, says the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR).

Survival time from cancer has roughly doubled in a decade, and the average patient now lives more than 10 years after being diagnosed.

But just 28 per cent of people believe the disease can be controlled in the long-term, according to an ICR-commissioned YouGov poll of members of the public and cancer patients.

In comparison, 46 per cent of people said they believed heart disease can be managed in the long-term, and 77 per cent said the same for diabetes.

The survey also found that only a quarter of people (26 per cent) think progress against cancer is being made.

The ICR is calling for more attention to be given to cancer's ability to resist treatment, so that more people can live longer and survive cancer. It says that cures are not yet possible for many people with advanced cancer, but personalised treatment is greatly extending lives.

Professor Paul Workman, ICR chief executive, said: "We believe it's vital that we can take the public on this journey with us, by understanding that cancer is a hugely complex and evolving disease, and that we need to move beyond the old, binary 'cure or nothing' thinking to find innovative new ways of treating the disease that can give people a longer and better life.

He said that thanks to research, "we are already making great progress against cancer, with diseases that just a few years ago were lethal, now increasingly manageable".

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