Cancer Treatment Postcode Lottery Still Exists, Say Liberal Democrats

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Byline: By MADELEINE BRINDLEY Western Mail

Access to speedy cancer diag-nosis and treatment still depends on where in Wales patients live, it was claimed last night. The Liberal Democrats said the postcode lottery still exists in cancer care, despite the first cancer waiting times figures showing progress on seeing people with urgent referrals.

And the all-Wales figures show that the long delays suffered by many women with suspected breast cancer in parts of South Wales have eased.

Jenny Randerson, Lib-Dem health spokeswoman said, 'Within and between NHS trust areas there is a huge difference between the speed of treatment, depending on what cancer a patient is diagnosed with.

"For example, in the North it is good news that 100% of breast cancer patients start treatment within two months of referral.

'However, in the same area, only a third of patients receive treatment for upper gastrointestinal cancer within the same time period.

'In the South-East, nine in 10 with upper gastrointestinal cancer are treated within two months, but it drops to six in 10 for lung cancer.'

Overall the figures show, for people referred as urgent suspected cases:

90.3% of patients with breast cancer started definitive treatment within two months of referral;

66% of patients with lower gastrointestinal cancer started definitive treatment within two months of referral;

66.2% of patients with lung cancer started definitive treatment within two months of referral;

76.7% of patients with upper gastrointestinal cancer started definitive treatment within two months of referral.

This is the first time that quarterly cancer waiting times figures have been released for the whole of Wales and show the progress the NHS has made on meeting new targets for December 2006.

The new targets replace the old standard of seeing all suspected cancer referrals within 10 days - the so-called gold standard. …