Government 'must deliver cancer plans as survival rates stall'

Macmillan Cancer Support raised concerns after new figures showed no change in survival rates in five years.

Scottish Government must deliver cancer plans as survival rates stall, says Macmillan Cancer Support iStock
Macmillan: Cancer charity concerned about 'stalling survival rates'.

The Scottish Government must deliver on cancer recovery and palliative care plans as the rate of survival in cancer patients is stalling, a leading charity has said.

Macmillan Cancer Support raised concerns after figures published by Public Health Scotland on Tuesday showed “no change in age-standardised survival” between 2018 and 2019.

During a five-year period between 2015 and 2019, 141,572 adults were diagnosed with cancer (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers) in Scotland.

Two-thirds of men (69%) and women (72%) survived for at least one year, while two in five men (44%) and one in two women (51%) survived for at least five years.

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Macmillan are concerned that improvements in survival rates for people diagnosed with cancer in Scotland have stalled, even before the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on cancer recovery is known.

“We are very concerned that improvements in the rate of people surviving cancer have stalled in Scotland across the past few years – particularly since these figures will not capture the more recent impact of Covid-19,” said Janice Preston from Macmillan Cancer Support in Scotland.

“The statistics matter, but so do the people and families behind them – thousands of lives turned upside down by cancer.”

Ms Preston called on the Scottish Government to deliver on plans that would support the recovery of cancer services as well as the cancer care workforce, alongside delivering palliative and end-of-life care plans.

She continued: “Too many people are missing out on the support that’s right for them. Despite health professionals working tirelessly, people are waiting too long for diagnoses and treatment, and unable to access the help they desperately need. Good care is a lifeline, not a luxury, and people’s ability to live fully, recover well, and even survive, is under threat.

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“Everyone, regardless of who and where they are, deserves high quality care that address their needs, as well as their cancer. That’s why it’s so important that the Scottish Government deliver on plans to support the recovery of cancer services and the cancer workforce, as well as delivering a new palliative and end-of-life care plan as soon as possible.”

If you have been affected by cancer and need support, contact Macmillan for advice and information for free on 0808 808 0000.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Population-based cancer survival reflects the totality of efforts to improve cancer outcomes – from early detection through to prompt diagnosis and effective treatment. Today’s statistics show a stable position compared to the previous year.

“We continue to invest in our £44m Detect Cancer Early (DCE) Programme, which adopts a whole systems approach to diagnosing and treating cancer as early as possible.  An additional £20m has been committed over this parliamentary term.”