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Macmillan warns cancer testing and treatment remains too low in Wales

Richard Pugh Pic:Tom Martin © WALES NEWS SERVICE

Macmillan Wales has warned that coronavirus is continuing to have a negative impact on the number of people being tested and treated for cancer.

The charity says that while the latest data suggests a level of recovery in the number of people entering the cancer pathway, it remains below the levels required to reduce Wales’ diagnostic backlog.

During September, 11,981 patients entered the single cancer pathway.  While this is a promising increase of 13.5% when compared to August, it is still 1,145 patients fewer than September last year.

Richard Pugh, Head of Partnerships for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales said:

“When it comes to cancer statistics, we have to focus on the people behind the numbers.  The question we must ask is how many of those missing 1,145 potential patients may now have an undiagnosed cancer and experience complications as a result.

“While we warmly welcome the level of recovery achieved in September in terms of the numbers of the people now being tested for cancer, the figure is still almost 9% less than last year.

“Wales faced a substantial backlog in cancer diagnosis and treatment, even before the second coronavirus wave, a national lockdown and winter pressures impacted on our already under pressure NHS and hardworking NHS staff.

“Cancer cannot become the Forgotten C and wait for this pandemic to end.  People have a far greater chance of surviving a cancer diagnosis if they are diagnosed and treated early.

“We need the Welsh Government to put in place a fully-fledged Covid-19 recovery plan for cancer services and make sure that the right cancer care remains in place to treat people with cancer when they need it, and to tackle a cancer care backlog that will only continue to grow with every disruption in Wales’ cancer services caused by this pandemic.

“We would also encourage anyone who notices new or sustained changes to their, or a loved one’s health, to contact their GP. Please don’t ignore symptoms, get them checked.  Local GP practices may be working in a different way, but they are still there to help you.”

At a time when the charity’s income faces a significant drop, Macmillan is doing everything it can to be there for people with cancer during the pandemic, who need it now more than ever.

For information, support or just a chat, call Macmillan free on 0808 808 0000.

To help Macmillan continue to be there for people with cancer when they need it more than ever, do something amazing today and call 0300 1000 200.