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Improvement in cancer survival rates.

Byline: Mark Smith Health Correspondent

FEWER people aged under 75 are dying from cancer in Wales, despite a rise in the number being diagnosed, latest Government figure have shown.

Despite the statistics in the third all-Wales annual report on cancer, a leading charity warned the nation still had "some way to go" in delivering a first-class cancer service.

According to latest figures, there has been a 25% reduction in deaths from the disease in those under 75 years old between 1995 and 2012.

The drop in death rates comes despite an average of 16,400 new cases of cancer being diagnosed each year.

There has also been a 17.5% improvement in the number of people still alive a year after diagnosis, with a 20.1% rise in patients after five years.

But charity Macmillan Cancer Support claims Wales still needs to make greater strides if it wants to match commitments made in the Welsh Government's Cancer Delivery Plan.

General Manager for Wales Susan Morris said: "Two years following the launch of the Cancer Delivery Plan for Wales, there is still some way to go to achieve all of its ambitions.

"It is imperative that the Welsh Government undertakes a follow-up Patient Experience Survey during 2015 to measure from a patient's perspective whether progress is being been made.

The third all-Wales annual report for cancer sets out the progress made against the Welsh Government's Together for Health: Cancer Delivery Plan over the past 12 months and identifies areas for future improvement.

It found that common cancers, such as prostate, large bowel and breast are being diagnosed in early, curable stages due to improved screening and education.

But the Welsh NHS' performance against the 62-day cancer waiting time target for people newly-diagnosed with cancer remains "an area for improvement", according to the report, and sets out areas for action for health boards to deliver improvements in waiting times.

In October, the Assembly for Wales' Health and Social Care Committee found a number of flaws in cancer diagnosis and treatment in Wales and made 13 recommendations to Health Minister Mark Drakeford on how these issues could be improved.

It said Wales was still "lagging behind" other European countries in the provision of cancer services.

Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething, who visited Velindre Cancer Centre yesterday, said caring for people with cancer is a top priority for NHS Wales.

He said: "Over the coming years, around one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer before age 75 and around four in 10 at some stage during their lifetime.

"Cancer is a common diagnosis and the incidence is increasing. Our aim is for the Welsh NHS to provide the highest standard of care for everyone with cancer.

"There has been considerable progress in cancer care in Wales over the past 12 months.

"This report clearly shows that while there are more people are being diagnosed with cancer in Wales each year, death rates are falling.

"New and more effective treatments mean that many more people can now expect to live longer after cancer treatment.

"However, the report also sets out the challenges the Welsh NHS faces. Dr Andrew Goodall, chief executive of NHS Wales, said: "The Welsh NHS has performed well over the past 12 months and seen progress in many of our performance measures."
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 15, 2015
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