MP responds in Ovarian Cancer debate

Steve Brine spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on ovarian cancer diagnosis and treatment on Tuesday 30th October. The Winchester & Chandler’s Ford MP is also the Cancer Minister, and he responded to Lee Rowley MP’s debate on behalf of the Government.

Mr Rowley opened the debate by saying that ovarian cancer is a quiet, invasive cancer, which robs wives, daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers of years of their lives, often unexpectedly and quickly, with devastating impacts on their families.

He said: “Today about 25,000 women are living with the cancer and every day 20 will be diagnosed with it. Despite some progress in recent years the disease still takes away the lives of 4,000 women a year, and hundreds of thousands around the world. Because of its devastating effects its survival rate is, tragically, not as high as everyone would like, and 46% of sufferers do not survive for five years or more.”

The debate heard from a range of speakers, including Nick Thomas-Symonds, Nick Boles, Jim Shannon and Theresa Villiers, and discussed the work of Target Ovarian Cancer alongside the importance of screening and prevention.

Steve Brine told the House that he was pleased to receive the report on early diagnosis from the All Party Group on Ovarian Cancer, and that he was fortunate to see first-hand the excellent work being done by the dedicated staff in the NHS and by their many partners across the cancer community in implementing the 96 recommendations in the Cancer Strategy for England.

He said: “We are three years into this work and cancer survival rates have never been higher - Around 7,000 people are alive today who would not have been had mortality rates stayed the same as in 2010.

“But, as I make absolutely clear every time I respond to a cancer debate, I know we must do more.

“Despite the huge strides we have made, ovarian cancer survival rates in the UK are among the lowest in Europe with fewer than half of all women diagnosed surviving five years or more.  So there is much more that we need to do.

“That’s why at the beginning of the month, the Prime Minister announced an ambitious package of measures for cancer care and treatment at the heart of our long-term plan for the NHS.  We will overhaul screening programmes, and provide new investment in state of the art technology to boost research and innovation to help us, most importantly, transform how we diagnose cancers.

“Our long-term plan, backed by £20billion a year by 2023, will set out how we will achieve the ambition of diagnosing 75 percent of all cancers at an early stage with 55,000 more people surviving cancer for five years in England each year from 2028.”

He went on to talk about the importance of early diagnosis “particularly for ovarian cancer”, and how it was a key strategic priority in the Cancer Strategy. He also explained how a regional ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ style advertising pilot had taken place in the North West with ovarian cancer as the theme, and that Public Health England were analysing data for next year’s campaign.

He also spoke about genetic testing, and how they Government will ensure sustainable growth in key professions through continued investment in training places, with a big focus on attracting and retaining students and increasing the numbers of qualified professionals who go on to work in the NHS.

Closing the debate, he said: “I want to pay tribute to the hard work and professionalism of our dedicated cancer workforce.  Ultimately they are the ones that will determine the success of the cancer strategy and the long-term plan for the NHS.

“As the cancer Minister, I am very excited by the potential for huge progress in the next 10 years on cancer diagnosis, treatment and support.

“We have fully established 19 Cancer Alliances, and backed them with the funding they need to transform services.  We will continue to back them to ensure that the NHS long-term plan, with cancer right at its heart, can turbocharge all we have already achieved and are on track to achieve through the Cancer Strategy.  The plan will ensure we make huge strides on cancer survival, particularly for less-survivable cancers like ovarian cancer.

“NHS England and I, with the tireless support of our cancer community – Team cancer as I call them - are committed to making the ambitions it sets out an absolute reality.  This will ensure –I said it in this place not two weeks ago and will say it again -  that we make a huge leap forward over the next 10 years to a future where cancer has no future.”

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