Twice as many people think cancer is a death sentence in the UK compared to the US
The Lilly PACE initiative today launched the results of a survey of cancer patients, their carers and the general public around current perceptions of cancer care.
The survey, conducted in six countries across the globe, showed that in the UK although the majority of people (73%) are satisfied with recent progress in the fight against cancer, half of them (42%)1 still feel a diagnosis of cancer is a death sentence. This was double the percentage reported by American survey respondents, suggesting people in the UK have lower expectations of cancer treatment.
In addition, 70% of people believe current challenges facing the UK economy could stifle innovative cancer research, with a strong majority (74%) believing it takes too long for new cancer medicines to reach patients. This may be a legitimate concern. In 2012 an Office of Health Economics report showed that the median time it took a newly launched drug to receive publication of NICE guidance via the Single Technology Appraisal process was over two and a half years.
In the UK there was also concern about resources, with almost half (48%)1 of those questioned believing not enough is being spent on cancer research. In addition, 72% of the general population, 87% of patients and 81% of carers think that the NHS should pay for life-prolonging treatment. With the Government set to change the way drugs in the UK are priced within the next six months and NICE playing a key role in assessing medicines for funding, these are important findings about the public views. Furthermore, the Cancer Drugs Fund, used to pay for life prolonging treatments in oncology, is due to end soon.
Describing the PACE Cancer Perceptions Index, Andrew Wilson (Rarer Cancers Foundation) explained "It is shocking to see that such a large proportion of people still see cancer as a death sentence. It is essential that the recent changes to the NHS, uncertainty over the future of the Cancer Drugs Fund and changing in drugs pricing do not represent hurdles for patients or delay their access to innovative cancer medicines. Research such as this highlights why improving cancer management should continue to be an area of government focus."
The PACE Cancer Perceptions Index also showed around half (56%) of the UK public understood that incremental 'small-step' advances in treatment for cancer, rather than blockbuster developments, are integral to progress when it comes to treating and managing the disease. The research also reveals how those involved in the development of cancer medicines are perceived, with pharmaceutical companies recognised as equal to academic researchers in advancing cancer treatments.
Describing the PACE Cancer Perceptions Index, Dr Mick Peake, Consultant and Senior Lecturer in Respiratory Medicine, Clinical Lead, National Cancer Intelligence Network, and Chair of the UK PACE advisory board explained "Step by step we are continuing to gain ground in the fight against cancer and it's great that people in the UK understand this. However, it's important not to lose momentum especially given that our cancer survival rates lag behind many other European countries. We must build on our successes in order to make progress and, despite the slowdown in the UK economy, it is essential that steps are put in to place to speed up and give patients greater access to excellence in cancer care and treatment."
PACE stands for Patient Access to Cancer care Excellence. Created by Lilly Oncology as a global collaboration spanning diverse sectors, PACE exists to encourage public policies and health care decisions that speed the development of new medicines, promote rapid learning from patient experiences and assure that cancer care and treatment responds to the needs and qualities of individual patients. The PACE programme believes that by putting patients at the centre of cancer care we will ensure access to excellence and innovation in treatment.
About the PACE Cancer Perceptions Index
The Lilly PACE study was fielded in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States. Three respondent groups were interviewed in each country: general population, cancer patients, and cancer patient caregivers.
The survey of over 4000 people around the world included over 700 UK respondents.
All respondents in all sample groups were required to be 18 years of age or older in order to participate. Patients were screened for a cancer diagnosis in the past 5 years, having undergone at least one of the following treatments: surgery, chemotherapy (or infusional injections or oral anti-cancer drugs), or radiation therapy. The same requirements pertained to the person caregivers were helping and about whom they were responding. Data were monitored during the field period to make certain that there was a mix of different types of the most prevalent cancers. The results yielded a mix of cancers naturally. The cancers that were monitored were breast, lung, colon, and prostate.