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Expand cancer screening and upgrade radiotherapy equipment

Last updated: 12:21pm 16 May 2019

…while expanded screening and a major radiotherapy equipment upgrade will help ensure many more people survive cancer.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.69

Our verdict

The three main cancer treatments are radiotherapy, cancer surgery and chemotherapy. The radiotherapy machines used are linear accelerators (linacs), and they are supposed to be replaced after 10 years of operation, though the last time major investment was made in their renovation was in the early 2000s.

This policy promises to expand cancer screening and undertake a major radiotherapy equipment upgrade.

After the last election, in July 2017 the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens announced a £325 million investment to help the NHS modernise. This announcement included plans for the establishment of a brand-new cancer centre in Cumbria.

In addition, in September 2018, the first patient in the UK was treated with the new MR linac machines at the Royal Marsden Hospital. A second MR linac machine is due to be installed in Manchester in 2019.

New radiotherapy equipment has also been received by Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

These examples show that renovation of radiotherapy equipment is taking place and the government has announced investment. However, due to the slow speed at which renovation is happening and the limited scale of it, in comparison to the promised “major upgrade”, we are marking this policy as ‘in progress’. We’ll be monitoring for ongoing upgrades and expansion, so follow this policy to stay up to date.

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