Looking back to the decade I was born in, the 1970s, only one in four people in the UK survived cancer for ten years or more.
Fast forward to now and survival has more than doubled.
But the sad truth is that we still have a long way to go. Cancer cases are increasing and hard-won progress is slowing.
People are waiting too long to be diagnosed and treated, the NHS is under enormous pressure and the country’s survival rate is falling behind that of similar countries.
We live in a country that has the potential to set a gold standard for cancer research, but there is much work to be done. We need a long-term plan that will take us from laggards to world leaders.
When Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, was born, only one in four people in the UK survived cancer for ten years or more.
In our manifesto, we have set out exactly these plans, ‘Longer, Better Lives’, which, if implemented, could help prevent 20,000 cancer deaths each year by 2040.
Research has been fundamental to the improvements we have seen so far. Just look at cervical cancer.
We live in a world where a vaccine – developed through decades of research, clinical trials and NHS screening programs – has reduced cervical cancer rates by 90 per cent in girls who were first vaccinated in early of the 2000s.
We may be able to eliminate this type of cancer as a public health problem. But research must be funded enough to make more breakthroughs like this.
We face a funding gap of more than £1 billion for cancer research by the end of the next decade, which the Government must address urgently.
People are waiting too long to be diagnosed and treated, the NHS is under enormous pressure and the country’s survival rate is falling behind similar countries.
We live in a world where a vaccine, developed through decades of research, clinical trials and NHS screening programmes, has reduced cervical cancer rates by 90 per cent.
Firstly, we must also ensure that fewer people get cancer. Smoking remains the leading cause in the UK, causing 150 cases of cancer every day. Tobacco is the only legal consumer product that will kill the majority of its users.
That’s why changes to who can buy tobacco products are so important. Under the proposed legislation, my own children will never be able to legally purchase cigarettes.
It’s exciting to think that the next generation could be saved from a life of poor health and addiction.
Cancer remains the defining health problem of our time. Almost one in two people will develop the disease during their lifetime.
The UK should not accept cancer outcomes lagging behind the world. We should not accept a decrease in funding in real terms. And we should not accept some of the longest waits for tests and treatments in recent history.
Those affected by cancer, rightly, will not accept it. Behind every statistic is a mother, a father, a son, a daughter, a family affected by cancer who depends on politicians making the right decisions.
The time to act is now: with political will and leadership, we can all have more moments with the people we love.