Call for action to improve cancer survival in Wales

Clwyd West Assembly Member Darren Millar has called on the Welsh Health Minister to take action to address the fact that Wales is still lagging behind other counties when it comes to cancer survival rates.

While the situation has improved with just over half of those diagnosed with cancer surviving their diagnosis for 10 years or more, compared to 1 in 4 in the 1970s,  Darren is concerned that Wales is “still well behind other countries in terms of our five-year survival rates”.

In the Assembly Chamber on Wednesday, he urged the Health Minister to address the shortage of staff in the diagnostic workforce so more people are diagnosed at the earliest stage, which is critical to giving patients the best chance of survival.

He said:  

“Cancer mortality is improving across Wales, including the north. The European age-standardised mortality rate for cancer in North Wales has fallen from 348.3 in every 100,000 in 2001 to 276 by 2017. That represents a 21 per cent fall over 17 years.

“Those statistics are very welcome indeed, but, unfortunately, as the Minister will know, we're still well behind other countries in terms of our five-year survival rates. In fact, for bowel cancer, we're twenty-fifth out of 29 countries in Europe.

“Catching cancer early is critical to people's opportunities for survival. Cancer Research UK have indicated that you're three times more likely to survive your cancer if you're diagnosed at stages 1 or 2, rather than stages 3 or 4. So, in order to drive that improvement in mortality, we clearly need to address some of the issues that we face in the diagnostic workforce, yet we know that there are shortages of radiographers, of consultants and of specialist nurses in Wales.

“The Welsh Government needs to take more action to address the shortages in the workforce in order that we can drive up this early diagnosis, imporve outcomes for patients and move us from the bottom of the European cancer league tables all the way to the top."