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Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer

Scottish Government announces 10-year strategy

The Scottish Government has published its long-awaited 10-year strategy, setting out its priorities and goals for improving cancer care over the coming decade. It includes a three-year Cancer Action Plan.  

The Scottish Government aims to halve the percentage of cancer cases which are detected at a late stage. Currently 42% of cases are diagnosed at stages three or four. The goal is to reduce this to 24% by 2033. As well as reducing late-stage diagnosis, there is a commitment to embedding research, innovation, and data capture in all services.   

The strategy states that “identifying promising research and developing a pipeline that enables innovations to be brought into NHS Scotland, to help diagnose cancer earlier and faster, will ensure improvements can be rolled out and embedded at pace”. This will be supported by the Chief Scientist’s Office and the Scottish Health and Industry Partnership Group (SHIP), including the Scottish Cancer Consortium and the Accelerated National Innovation Adoption (ANIA) Pathway, and will require coordination across multiple partners, including industry and academia.  

There is also the ambition to improve access to research and clinical trials for minority ethnic people and those that are currently underrepresented in clinical trials. The Scottish Government aims to create a flourishing research and innovation environment where health professionals have allocated research time, adequate laboratory support and are working in partnership across academia, industry and the third sector.  

Efforts will focus on cancer types with the largest burden and worst outcomes. These include less-survivable cancers such as liver, pancreas and brain cancer. The Government promises strong public health interventions to ensure that “more cancers are prevented, and those who require diagnosis and treatment will have prompt access to quality services, all with the strategic focus of improved survival and excellent care, no matter where someone lives”.  

The strategy also aims to tackle inequalities associated with cancer. In Scotland, there is currently 20% poorer uptake of cancer screening in the most deprived areas compared with the least deprived. Furthermore, cancer-related deaths are 74% higher in the most deprived population than in the least deprived.  

Health Secretary Michael Matheson, who launched the plan at the Cancer Centre at Western General Hospital, said that improving cancer survival was the Government's absolute focus. He added: “The strategy takes a strong public health approach, which means more cancers will be prevented.”  

Brain Tumour Research Policy and Public Affairs Officer, Thomas Brayford, said: “We are encouraged by the latest Scottish cancer strategy. There are parallels between this strategy and the recommendations of the recent All-Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours report delivered by MPs at Westminster and led by Brain Tumour Research. We welcome, in particular, the greater emphasis on less-survivable cancers including brain tumours, and fully support the idea of a flourishing research and innovation environment in Scotland. Sustainable and continuous research is vital if we are to find a cure for brain tumours. We now need to see long-term investment to ensure the success of the strategy.” 

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