Nation 'must learn to diagnose cancer earlier' if survival rates are to improve
MORE must be done to diagnose cancer earlier if survival rates are to increase in Scotland, a report has warned.
Cancer Research UK said services in Scotland had improved since the launch of the Better Cancer Care action plan in 2008. But it said there needed to be more action to pick up cancers earlier to make it easier to treat the disease.
About 15,000 people die from cancer each year in Scotland.
The latest report - Improving Cancer Outcomes - investigates how the four countries of the UK have implemented their cancer strategies.
It points out that plans in England and Scotland are more comprehensive than those in Wales and Northern Ireland.
In Scotland, the report said, there had been progress in preventing cancer, developing new treatments and giving patients more standard care nationwide.
But it said improving awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer and building on the success of screening programmes such as those for breast and cervical cancer were vital for future success. The experts said familiarity with the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative in England was reasonably widespread among those working with patients. But the report said: "Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland need to prioritise the early diagnosis of cancer."
Interviews with those working in cancer suggested they understood the importance of early diagnosis and the impact this could have on treatment options and survival rates. But they said there was concern this could be "an area for financial constraint in light of efficiency savings".
Yesterday's report also raised concerns about a reduction in training time for new cancer surgeons in the UK, and said it was "worrying". EU regulations limit doctors in training to a 48-hour working week.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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