Campaigners delivered a petition to Downing Street on Wednesday demanding that officials address the cancer crisis. Representatives from 62 charities handed over the document signed by 80,000 supporters, calling on diagnosis and treatment to be made a top priority.
The call to arms was backed by scores of support groups, who have united as One Cancer Voice.
It comes as experts forecast 445,000 people in Britain will be hit with the disease this year, and in each of the next five years.
Concerns about how to tackle a crisis exacerbated by Covid have intensified after ministers decided to axe plans for a 10-year “war on cancer” in favour of a five-year Major Conditions Strategy, which put cancer in with a host of other complex conditions such as dementia.
It has left patients and oncologists fearing cancer will not get the focus it deserves.
The crisis triggered an outpouring of anger that led to the petition arranged by Cancer Research UK.
It has been signed by tens of thousands of people, who have been left at the mercy of long waiting lists – now seen as the worst.
CRUK chief executive Michelle Mitchell said: “With cancer, time is critical. A matter of weeks can be enough to impact someone’s chances of survival. More people are being treated than ever before, yet waiting times are among the worst on record.
“Cancer services remain chronically understaffed and under-resourced, and the challenge is set to get even harder with cancer cases projected to rise by a 10th across the UK in just five years, and a third by 2040. We are calling on the Prime Minister to make cancer a top priority. Only then will people receive the care they deserve.”
Anna Jewell, chair of the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce, said: “Without a dedicated plan and funding, thousands will continue to die of these devastating cancers.”