Cancer waiting targets are to be preserved by the coalition government and £750m invested in improving survival rates over the next four years, the Department of Health has announced.

Improving Outcomes – A Strategy for Cancer, sets out how the government plans to save an extra 5,000 lives a year by 2014-15 through new and improved screening and better access to treatment and care.

Of the £750m, £450m will go towards improving early diagnosis.

HSJ understands most of the £450m will be given to commissioners to fund increased GP access to diagnostic tests and more testing and treatment in secondary care. The new public health service, Public Health England, will get a small share of the cash to spend on promoting screening and raising awareness of the symptoms of cancer.

The document, which is the first of a number of outcomes strategies set to be published by the DH, also includes plans to develop tariffs for chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said the strategy was the “first steps” towards achieving the government’s ambition of delivering cancer “survival rates among the best in Europe”.

Care services minister, Paul Burstow, said the strategy rejected the “top-down approach of the past”. However, a review of cancer waiting targets, also published on Wednesday, found they were all clinically justified.

The DH has decided to keep all of the targets, despite David Cameron telling the House of Commons in July it was a decision for the new National Commissioning Board which is yet to be established.

A report by Monitor published in December found that cancer waiting times continued “to present the most significant challenge for foundation trusts” with 21 per cent missing targets during the second quarter of the financial year.