The number of cancer patients waiting too long to start treatment would stretch from London to Cardiff if they stood in a row, according to campaigners.
Patients, charity activists and oncologists marched on Parliament yesterday to call for urgent action to tackle the cancer crisis.
They unveiled a banner revealing new analysis which showed that more than 200,000 patients have experienced treatment delays since 2020.
Led by #CatchUpWithCancer, they called on ministers to commit to having a dedicated cancer plan to tackle what they call ‘the deepest cancer crisis in 30 years’.
They said tens of thousands of people have missed out on the 62-day cancer treatment target, arguing every four weeks of delay in receiving treatment can increase the risk of death by 10 per cent.
Brain tumour campaigners, (left to right) Antiques Roadshow expert Theo Burrell, TV gardener Danny Clarke, Dan Knowles, CEO of Brain Tumour Research, Sam Suriakumar, a patient in treatment for a brain tumour, and mother of campaigner Laura Nuttall, Nicola Nuttall, pose with their box of signatures before handing in a petition to 10 Downing Street, London
Brain tumour campaigners, including Antiques Roadshow expert Theo Burrell and mother of campaigner Laura Nuttall, Nicola Nuttall, walk along Whitehall on the way to Downing Street
Campaigners said tens of thousands of people have missed out on the 62-day cancer treatment target, arguing every four weeks of delay in receiving treatment can increase the risk of death by 10 per cent
Giving a regional breakdown of cancer treatment delays, they said the Midlands was the worst region when it came to delays since January 2020, saying 49,613 faced unacceptable waits.
This was followed by 35,935 in the North East and Yorkshire, 31,503 in the South East, 28,425 in the North West, 27,379 in the East of England, 26,971 in the South West, 22,578 in London and 114 having private treatment.
Oncologist Professor Pat Price, co-founder of the campaign group, said: ‘Let this be the end of accepting the unacceptable when it comes to cancer.
‘We’re calling on all (political) parties to acknowledge the cancer crisis and commit to delivering a plan to tackle it.’
An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘The NHS has treated over 1.2 million people for cancer since 2020, and in the last year alone almost three million people received potentially lifesaving cancer checks and over 336,000 people started treatment – with over 90 per cent of patients starting treatment within a month, despite record demand.
‘NHS staff continue to work hard to prioritise the longest waiters and most urgent cases, and recent efforts mean more people are being diagnosed at an early stage than ever before and survival rates are higher than ever.’
Giving a regional breakdown of cancer treatment delays, campaigners said the Midlands was the worst region when it came to delays since January 2020, saying 49,613 faced unacceptable waits
The march included a petition signed by more than 80,000 people calling for more investment and research into brain cancer.
Antiques Roadshow expert Theo Burrell, who was diagnosed with a glioblastoma (GBM) in June 2022, and Danny Clarke from the BBC’s The Instant Gardener, whose sister Margot McLellan died from GBM, joined Brain Tumour Research officials to hand in the petition.
Ms Burrell said: ‘Brain tumours are heavily underfunded, they need more investment, and we need to raise more awareness so that we can improve treatment options and ultimately find a cure.
‘We’ve seen in other cancers, where more investment is put forward, better results – like leukaemia and breast cancer.
‘So we need to bring brain tumours up to speed with those other types of cancers.’