Following two cancer sufferers, embarking on two very different treatment regimes with insights from some of the foremost experts in the field we attempt to explore the question ‘why does the UK have the lowest cancer survival in Western Europe and what are the alternatives’?

The latest figures from Cancer Research show that half of all Britons will suffer from cancer at some point in their lives. Half. It’s a staggering and disturbing statistic but perhaps more disturbing is the survival rate – at just 50% it’s one of the lowest rates in the Western world.

The unavoidable truth is that something is wrong with the way we tackle cancer in Britain.

The standard NHS treatment is a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and that’s it. It’s a one-size fits all approach to a problem that is anything but uniform. Chemotherapy can also do more harm than good, even causing secondary cancers in some patients.

It’s no surprise then that some have responded to this by seeking alternative treatments and therapies, either in the UK or abroad. However when they do this their NHS support is either reduced or removed entirely, which only heightens their struggle.

Many medical professionals consider alternative practitioners quacks, pedalling false hope, whilst some in the alternative world believe that the system’s strings are being pulled by the big pharmaceutical companies who make vast profits from the status quo. This is at the heart of The Cancer Conflict, because whilst there are strong opinions on both sides there is a common goal – defeating cancer and saving lives.

Whilst cancer is a battle faced by all of mankind, we’ll be looking at it through the eyes of those for whom it’s personal: Grant and Surinder, two cancer sufferers, each facing pessimistic prognoses and tackling their cancer in contrasting ways.

Grant has faith in science and has chosen traditional chemotherapy through the NHS supplemented by additional treatment in Germany that is not available in the UK. Surinder has shunned the advice of the NHS to pursue entirely alternative treatment after reports of the negative effects of chemo and surgery.

Their moving personal stories are intertwined with interviews with experts, leading oncologists and researchers who attempt to explain the treatments Grant and Surinder are experiencing, the science behind why they are likely to succeed or fail, and the science, logic, arguments and financial pressures that determine which treatments are granted approval.

That truth is all too apparent with Grant and Surinder. As these two brave souls continue to fight it becomes apparent they are involved in ultimately doomed battles. Grant’s initial hope succumbs to a very grim reality and Surinder’s stubborn refusal to follow any orthodox medical advice potentially costs her not just her health, but also her relationships with her closest ones.

These are the stories of just two cancer sufferers, but their journeys reflect the experiences of hundreds of thousands. They are battling for their own survival against a medical landscape that is defined by conflict: Conflict over the finances for different treatments; conflict over access to different treatments; conflict over the evidence around which treatments are most effective.

Every day another 448 people lose their personal fight. That’s a jumbo jet full of people dying, every single day, and we know from statistical evidence that it simply doesn’t have to be that many. Something has to change. But what? The Cancer Conflict takes us to the heart of the issues, confronts the big questions and gets this vital discussion started.

So the question The Cancer Conflict really wants to ask is ‘Shouldn’t we be having a conversation about this?’

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