John Knight’s leader column: We can win the fight with cancer

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MOVEMBER was a personal disaster for me. I tried, really I did. Fresh faced and stubble free on 1st November, 30 days later I had no more than a downy fluff on my top lip that would have embarrassed a week old gosling. This was disappointing for two reasons. Firstly because politicians are supposed to be hirsute in this constituency. Our old MP Geoff Hoon had a Ned Flanders style soup strainer that was the envy of all until New Labour insisted he shave it off. Secondly, and more importantly, because I was unable to show support for a cause that should be close to everyone’s heart. The fight against Cancer.

Cancer is a word that all of us dread. Yet statistically over 40 per cent of us will have to come to terms with it at some time in our lives.

If it’s not us directly, then it is almost certain to affect a family member or close friend.

Nonetheless Cancers of every strain can and will be cured. I firmly believe this. What we lack is funding, not for palliative care, which is of course important, but for research into its eradication as a disease. We need to become pioneers in prevention, screening and treatment.

But that of course takes investment. Money devoted to research equates to better survival rates. It’s that simple.

If you doubt it take a look at the AIDS pandemic. Less than a generation ago to get this virus was a death sentence. If caught no amount of personal wealth could save you.

Governments around the world, including our own, poured money into research in the hope of developing a vaccine antidote.

The result of that effort and investment is that today AIDS is no longer a guaranteed death sentence and the World Health Organisation are close to re-defining the disease as “chronic” rather than “fatal”.

This is great news. But why not the same concerted attack on Cancer?

It affects more of us and destroys lives just as readily. I honestly believe that with the right funding and effort, in 20 years’ time we will look back on most cancers in the same way we now look back at Polio or tuberculosis, as once deadly killers that have been all but eradicated in Britain.