The Welsh Government’s record on cancer survival rates is “abysmal” according to an MS.
Llŷr Gruffydd, who represents North Wales in the Senedd, was responding to new data that shows Wales lags woefully behind other countries when it comes to the survival of patients who have Less Survivable Cancers.
The figures were released by the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce’s (LSCT) on Less Survivable Cancers Awareness Day 2024.
Mr Gruffydd is calling on Welsh Labour ministers to “act decisively” to improve the poor survival chances of people diagnosed with cancers of the lung, liver, brain, oesophagus, pancreas or stomach.
The “worrying” figures are based on a new analysis of existing data and the world survival rankings of lung, liver, brain, oesophageal, pancreatic and stomach cancers.
The data shows that out of 33 countries of comparable wealth and income levels, Wales ranks as low as 32nd for five year survival for stomach cancer and 31st for pancreatic and lung cancers.
This rises to 21st for both liver cancer and oesophageal cancer and 12th for brain cancer.
Llŷr Gruffydd MS: “These worrying figures from the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce highlight the abysmal record of the Welsh Government when it comes to Less Survivable Cancers.
“It extremely disappointing, but unfortunately unsurprising to see how poorly Wales, compares to our international counterparts.
“People diagnosed with one of these six cancers still have a shockingly low life expectancy and this is something that needs to change.
“Welsh Labour ministers need to act decisively to ensure that this happens. There are a range of actions that Welsh Government ministers could take to significantly improve survival rates.
“They include rolling out a programme that ensure that those most at risk are targeted for screening and monitoring.
“There have been repeated calls for improving targeted screening and monitoring which has fallen on deaf ears so far.
“These latest statistics should concentrate the minds of Welsh Government ministers on the importance of prioritising and accelerating cancer survival initiatives.
“Without concerted effort and action now, opportunities will continue to be missed to save lives.
The countries with the highest five year survival rates for less survivable cancers were Korea, Belgium, USA, Australia and China.
According to the analysis, if people in the UK survived at the same rate as those in these countries, then over 8,000 lives could be saved annually.
Currently, in the UK around 15,400 people will survive for five years following a diagnosis of a less survivable cancer.
If the UK had survival rates comparable to the top five performing countries, this number could be close to 24,000.