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Liverpool hit hard by tragic toll of cancer; Poverty and smoking blamed.

Byline: BY ALEX BELL Daily Post Correspondent

THERE are more excess cancer deaths in Liverpool than anywhere else in the North West, a report yesterday revealed.

The North West Cancer Intelligence Service said the city suffered an annual total of 355 "excess" deaths compared with 190 in Manchester and 132 in Salford.

Excess deaths in its simplest form means 355 fewer people would die each year of cancer if Liverpool had the same cancer death rates as the rest of England.

Dr Tony Moran, director of intelligence and research at the North West Cancer Intelligence Service, said: "Our death rates are high, not because of the standard of treatment, but because people in the North West are at a higher risk of developing cancer.

"This in turn is related to the high levels of deprivation and of smoking in this region, both of which increase the risk of cancer."

The report was produced to give health experts a clearer picture of cancer death rates for their population compared with the national average and ultimately showed that more than 1,300 people die in the North West every year above the national average.

Dr Ruth Hussey regional director of public health for NHS North West, said: "This is a very important report for our region as it really does highlight the strong relationship between high death rates and deprivation, especially around smoking.

"It is key data which will play a major part in making sure we deliver appropriate and effective health promotion and cancer services over the next few years."

The report coincides with an end-of-year report card from the Liverpool-based Roy Castle Lung Foundation which highlights the highly unsatisfactory status of lung cancer treatment in the UK.

The Foundation scored the government with four Fs, two Es and just one C in seven key areas of lung cancer treatment.

The Report card calls upon the government to score an "A" grade in all areas in the future and will be reviewed at the end of every year, when the Foundation will once again score on how they are performing.

Each year the scores will be compared to assess whether any improvements have been made.

Mike Unger, chief executive of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, said: "We want the government to wake up, they need to do something about this and have to get around it.

"They think it is just a self-inflicted disease and need to realise that a lot of people have given up smoking, but still suffer from lung cancer. They have to wake up to this, it is simply not good enough."

Although progress has been made in reducing waiting times for lung cancer patients and improving the availability of cutting edge equipment such as PET scans, the Report Card reveals that UK survival rates - which are among the worst in Europe - are "not good enough" given that lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the UK.

The score for patient access to specialist lung cancer nurses was given as "poor", with patients' access to new treatments and technologies being given another F grade.

Patients and carers will have the opportunity to sign up to the campaign to get an "A" grade for lung cancer http://www.roycastle.org/ campaign/reportcard.htm

CAPTION(S):

The Roy Castle Lung Cancer research centre, in Liverpool; Dr Ruth Hussey
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 18, 2007
Words:563
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