Deadliest cancers 'need more research'

Cancer Image copyright Getty Images

People in Scotland diagnosed with the six least survivable cancers have only a 12% chance of living for five years or more, according to new analysis.

The research looked at patients with pancreatic, liver, brain, lung, oesophageal or stomach cancer.

The Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce (LSCT) will tell MSPs later that more research is needed into the diseases.

The Scottish government said it had invested £100m in cancer services over the last five years.

Patients with other forms of cancer have a 67% chance on average of living beyond five years, the LSCT found.

The analysis shows the six less survivable cancers cause 54% of all deaths (7,000) from common cancers in Scotland per year.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The taskforce wants to see more money spent on research

LSCT - which is made up of Pancreatic Cancer UK, the British Liver Trust, The Brain Tumour Charity, Action Against Heartburn and Core - linked the death rate with a lack of research.

The charities claimed that over the past 12 years the six diseases received just 17% of UK research funding for common cancers, with the remainder dedicated to the 14 more survivable common cancers.

The taskforce is hoping to encourage more research and give patients the same chance of surviving as those with the more survivable cancers, which include prostate, breast and bowel cancer.

Motherwell and Wishaw MSP Clare Adamson, who is supporting the taskforce, said the figures were "disgraceful".

"In the last 40 years, the five-year survival rate has almost doubled for breast cancer and tripled for prostate cancer," she said.

"Yet in the same period, there has been precious little progress for people with these six less survivable cancers."

Survival rates

The LSCT is calling on MSPs, policy-makers, research funders, GPs, nurses and other healthcare professionals to raise awareness of the cancers.

The group want to ensure patients have access to new treatments and clinical trials as well as receiving treatments swiftly.

They have also called for the setting of government-backed targets to improve survival rates and an increase in research funding applications from scientists.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "Our 'Beating Cancer: Ambition and Action' strategy recognises the need to reduce the variation in survival rates of different types of cancer as much as possible.

"The strategy is accompanied by £100m investment over five years, and serves as a blueprint for the future of cancer services in Scotland.

"We're also supporting a national quality performance indicator programme which aims to drive improvement in the outcomes and survival rates for cancer, including those cancers noted by the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce."

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