Welsh cancer diagnoses coming too late

A report looking into services for cancer sufferers in Wales has found too many people are being diagnosed at a late stage.

The Welsh Government's 2016 Cancer Annual Report, which looked at NHS cancer services provided across the country, highlighted several improvements - including increasing survival rates - but also pointed to problem areas.

Wales has the second highest incidence rate for cancer in the UK, after Scotland, and key areas for improvement identified in this report include tackling late diagnosis, addressing lifestyle risks for cancer and improving access to tests and treatment times.

Health secretary Vaughan Gething said the Welsh Government's refreshed cancer delivery plan showed its ambition to be among the best in Europe:

“To do this, we must detect more cancers at earlier stages, so that patients can get the most benefit from the treatments available. Our annual report outlines how health boards are reorganising services to achieve this.”

In 2011, less than 42% of all cancers had their stage recorded, according to the report, but by 2015 over 76% of all cancers were having their stage recorded. It states:

“We will continue to tackle late diagnoses. Too many people are diagnosed through emergency routes.

This will require us to focus upon a range of activities to support patient awareness, access to GP services, GPs' response to detection and referral of cancer, in particular lung cancer, where survival rates remain lower than other parts of Europe.”

Some of the reasons given for late diagnosis were lack of public awareness symptoms and lack of willingness to bother GPs.

Mr Gething said cancer was affecting increasing numbers of people in Wales but that the NHS was responding.

He said spending on cancer had increased from £307 million in 2011-12 to £409 million in 2014-15

He added:

“Cancer survival continues to improve but we know there is more work to do.

We are committed to continuing to improve and to deliver the best treatment and care to people with cancer in Wales.”

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