Cancer survival increase in Wales better than elsewhere in UK, says report

Cancer survivor Steve Evans, from Brackla, Bridgend, tells Wales Today his cancer survival story

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Wales has the biggest increase in cancer survival rates in the UK, latest figures have shown.

A report into the Welsh government's cancer strategy also said newly diagnosed patients started treatment within the target time of 31 days.

It found the proportion of patients surviving for at least a year after cancer was up by 14% in a decade.

But the report highlighted that Wales still had not met the levels of a number of other European countries.

Health Minister Mark Drakeford said the report was a tribute to those involved with the planning and delivery of care.

Start Quote

It is now crucial that Carwyn Jones and Welsh Labour address severe shortcomings within cancer waiting times and end the postcode lottery surrounding access to cancer drugs”

End Quote Darren Millar AM Shadow Health Minister

"This report demonstrates real improvements in cancer care in Wales over the past year," he said.

"The report tells us our cancer survival improvement has been proportionately larger than in other UK countries, and we have consistently achieved the 31-day target since July 2013.

"We also know from the recent cancer patient experience survey that 89% of patients in Wales think their care is 'very good' or 'excellent', rising to 97% when describing their care as 'good'."

Mr Drakeford said every patient deserved the best care.

"Whilst the results of this report indicate we are moving in the right direction, in Wales we will continue to work to make improvements in all aspects of cancer care and treatment," he said.

But it was not all good news.

'Extremely heartened'

Survival rates in Wales continue to be below the European average for most common cancers.

And the survival rate for skin cancer is not only lower than the European average but is worse than the UK and Ireland average as well.

There has also been a 5% drop in the uptake of bowel cancer screening.

Conservative Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar AM said he was "extremely heartened" to see progress.

But he added: "It is now crucial that (First Minister) Carwyn Jones and Welsh Labour address severe shortcomings within cancer waiting times and end the postcode lottery surrounding access to cancer drugs.

"Outcomes could be even better if people weren't being denied modern cancer treatments in Wales - which are routinely available elsewhere in the UK."

A spokesperson for cancer charity Macmillan Wales said: "We are pleased that the second annual report highlights the progress health boards have made in delivering cancer services across Wales in the last 12 months, including highlighting the positive results from the first Wales Cancer Patient Experience Survey.

"However, the annual report highlights that improvements are still needed around cancer survival rates, waiting times for urgent suspected cancer and the implementation of the key worker and assessment and care planning initiative."

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