Theresa May's new cancer strategy is a 'huge ask' says professor of cancer prevention


Thursday, October 4, 2018

A professor of cancer prevention and director of clinical trials at King's College London has called the Prime Minister's new cancer strategy a "huge ask".

In her keynote speech at the Conservative party conference yesterday, Theresa May announced a new strategy to tackle cancer, including lowering the screening age for bowel cancer from 60 to 50, investing in more scanners and building "one stop shops" to speed up diagnosing and treating cancers.

In an interview with Julia Hartley-Brewer, Professor Peter Sasienie called the strategy a "huge ask", claiming he hadn't seen "any detail about how that would be achieved".

"To achieve the shift from half of cancers being diagnosed at an early stage to three quarters in just a decade is a huge ask. And I haven't seen any detail about how that would be achieved," he said.



"We already have the tools to treat cancer if we can find it early."

Professor Sasienie added that "nowhere in the world" is spotting three in four cancers at an early stage, but suggested a potential blood test that could help in working towards Theresa May's target.


A 'revolution' in technology

"There is potentially a revolution in technology that would allow blood tests to be able to detect cancers earlier," he said.

"If we had those tests that the GP could do straight away, it would really revolutionise the way we could diagnose cancer.

"If someone went to the GP and thought they probably don't have cancer, but there's a very slight chance this is caused by cancer, at the moment the GP has to make a very difficult decision. Do I send them to the hospital for a whole array of very expensive tests and get them nervous that they might have cancer? It would cost a fortune for the NHS and there probably wouldn't even be enough consultants to see them."