By Rachel Hutchings
For the first time, cancer statistics are showing how quickly patients are being diagnosed with the illness in different parts of Wales. The Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit (WISU) released figures this month, revealing that between 2011 and 2016, 34.1% of women were diagnosed at stage one breast cancer in Wales, with the percentage coming in at over 40% for Conwy and Gwynedd counties. The lowest proportions of 29.2% and 25.6% respectively are in Bridgend and Neath Port Talbot.
As for lung cancer, Wales as a whole managed to diagnose 11.6% of its patients at stage one. The highest proportions were found in the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff, which both came in with figures just under 16%. Once again Neath Port Talbot, along with Swansea, are seeing the lowest proportions at only 8%.
Medical experts state that it is very ‘encouraging’ that people living in poorer parts of Wales are showing to have an equal chance of early diagnosis in these types of cancer, with Dr Dyfed Wyn Huws (director of WISU) adding that ‘across Wales, the diagnosis of lung cancer at an early stage has improved’. Public Health Wales (PHW) CEO Tracey Cooper has added that, “it is encouraging that people from areas of high deprivation have a similar chance to those from the least deprived areas of having their cancer diagnosed at an early stage”.
However, the statistics also reveal that elderly people have the lowest level of stage one diagnosis for cancers of the breast, bowel or prostate and PHW have stated that, “While Wales’ cancer survival outcomes are broadly comparable to those of England, it is a long-term aspiration to be the best in Europe for our patients”. Experts have added that further improvements will happen when they are able to focus on finding cancer with more successful treatment.