May 1999

Tony Blair held talks last week with top cancer experts to discuss ways of combating the killer disease.

Professor Will Steward, Head of Leicester University's Department of Oncology at Leicester Royal Infirmary welcomed the UK prime minister's package of support for the fight against cancer.

This includes, among other initiatives, spreading good practice through the work of a Cancer Action Team; talking to cancer patients about their treatment; analysis of the effectiveness of anti-cancer drugs, urging cancer research bodies to look at how better to plan and share research and expertise.

In addition, extra funding was pledged to plan for an extra 400 cancer specialists and up to 15,000 extra nurses, as well as increased spending on cancer drugs.

Professor Steward said: "In the UK, cancer patients may not receive the same state-of-the art treatment as the rest of Europe and North America because we are often not funded to provide the optimal anti-cancer drugs.

"In Leicester, despite the enormous efforts of Leicester University and the Leicestershire Health Authority, we remain stretched in terms of providing state-of-the art drugs or conducting further research.

"Unlike many other cancer research departments across the country, we are not resourced by the key cancer research charities and rely instead on Leicester University and the Health Authority for our funds.

"I agree with my colleagues from across the country who met with the Prime Minister that cancer studies in the UK are seriously underfunded, and that more needs to be done to improve matters."

A total of 69,000 cancer sufferers die each year in the UK. Last year, cancer overtook heart disease as the biggest killer in this country. The government has already pledged to give 60m to reducing deaths from breast, bowel and lung cancer.

For more information, please contact Professor Steward on 0116 258 7597. Please ensure BOTH Leicester University and Leicester Royal Infirmary are properly accredited in your reports.

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Information supplied by: Barbara Whiteman
Last updated: 02 June 1999 15:55
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