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Wales narrowing cancer care gap; More survive 5 years after first diagnosis.

Byline: TOM BODDEN Welsh Affairs Correspondent

MORE cancer patients in Wales are surviving after one and five years, a new report showed yesterday.

Wales experienced the fastest rate of improvement in the UK for all cancer survival rates over the last 15 years, according to the first All Wales Cancer Annual Report.

The number of people surviving cancer treatment was estimated to be around 110,000 in 2009, with this expected to rise to 140,000 by 2016.

The report also said that prevention is improving, with three in every four eligible women being screened for breast cancer.

Breast Test Wales had the highest cancer detection rate of any UK breast screening programme.

The number of people accessing screening services for bowel cancer also improved, with more than 400,000 people invited for testing.

The NHS has consistently met the 31-day target for urgent treatment for patients referred to hospital for reasons other than suspected cancer.

The NHS was also on track to meet a target of 20% of patients consenting to donate tissue to the Wales Cancer Bank, which allows scientists to undertake research into cancer prevention and cure. But there remained inequalities and the Welsh Government is concerned about the high number of people who develop or die from cancer among more deprived communities.

Health minister Lesley Griffiths said yesterday: "The hard work of NHS staff together with continued investment and new, faster treatment means Wales has witnessed the biggest rate of improvement for cancer survival in the UK. Cancer is still Wales''s biggest killer disease, however, and there is more to do."

Last month new figures revealed targets for urgent cancer treatment were being missed.

Some 60 Welsh cancer patients among a total of 422 failed to receive treatment within the 62 days target in September.

Some 86% of patients newly diagnosed with cancer via the 'urgent suspected route' started definitive treatment within the recommended time, compared to the target of 95%. In North Wales, some 90% of patients were treated within the target.

Ms Griffiths said: "We need to improve performance against the 62 day target for those newly diagnosed with cancer, and diagnose cancer at earlier stages.

"The Cancer Delivery Plan, which I published in June, sets out early diagnosis as a priority for the NHS."

An average of around 8,400 people died from cancer each year in Wales between 1995-2009. But there has been a decreasing trend over the past 15 years, with rates falling on average by around 1% each year.

Cancer accounts for nearly 7% of all NHS expenditure in Wales. In 2010/11, the total was PS347m, the fourth biggest spending area for the Welsh Government.

Around one in three people in Wales will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 75.

The most commonly diagnosed cancers are breast, lung, bowel and prostate cancer.

tombodden@dailypost.co.uk

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Health Minister Lesley Griffiths has welcomed the increase in cancer survivors but said more must be done
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 18, 2012
Words:498
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