A Commons committee criticised the Government's attitude towards cancer research yesterday, complaining that it had "abdicated its responsibility" for the area.

A Commons committee criticised the Government's attitude towards cancer research yesterday, complaining that it had "abdicated its responsibility" for the area.

The Science and Technology Select Committee called for an extra £100m a year to be invested in cancer research as part of a shake-up of the way the disease was treated. Michael Clark, the committee chairman and Conservative MP for Rayleigh, said: "Cancer has been a scourge of the human race since the earliest times and still represents one of the world's most common diseases.

"It kills one in four people in the UK. One in three will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their lives. A world- class research programme is essential if we are to reduce the burden of this disease."

Making a series of recommendations for winning the battle against cancer, the committee urged ministers to create a National Cancer Institute and to focus on treatment times, not times to see a specialist.

The committee also demanded that "challenging targets" be set to reduce the time between GP referrals and the start of treatment.

Similarly, there should be an increase of the number of specialist cancer surgeons and registering cancer should be made a legal requirement.

The report, "Cancer Research - A Fresh Look", said much research was done to the "highest standards". But, "the furtherance of this research, and its exploitation to the benefit of patients, is compromised by chronic under-funding."

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