I sympathise profoundly with anyone who is affected by breast cancer and I know that organisations such as Breast Cancer Campaign work tirelessly to help support people with breast cancer and to reduce breast cancer rates.
The previous Labour Government rightly made tackling cancer one of its priorities and in the last decade five year survival rates for nearly all types of cancer improved much faster than many other European countries. That progress was due to good planning based on the evidence about what worked and on investment in both prevention and in cancer treatment services.
However, while there has been some progress in the last decade, it is clear that much more still needs to be done to improve diagnosis, treatment, support and awareness. As the Spread the Word campaign highlights, around 12,000 women die from breast cancer every year in the UK and we lag behind much of Europe in key areas such as early diagnosis and the treatment of older people.
That is why I believe the Spread the word campaign is absolutely right to call for politicians to keep the focus on the fight against cancer and to put breast cancer on their agenda as the General Election approaches.
I know the Shadow Health Team are looking closely at how best to improve cancer diagnosis, treatment, research and outcomes as part of their policy review. The Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, has also stated that a future Labour Government will be bold and ambitious when it comes to fighting cancer.
I hope that the current Government also listen and respond to the very serious concerns that have been raised about this issue and the recent rises in cancer waiting times. Indeed, progress on early diagnosis is stalling under the current Government and the Government is now missing its target for cancer waiting times, which means that families are facing longer waits for treatment.
I can assure you that I will continue to bear in mind the points raised by the Spread the Word campaign and thank those of my constituents who have raised this important issue with me recently.
Karen Buck MP