Higher ratio surviving the disease
An increasing and ageing population has seen diagnosis rates rise, but earlier diagnosis, surgical techniques and more effective drugs have meant a higher ratio are surviving the disease.
Linda Summerhayes, Cancer Research UK spokesperson in Scotland, said cancer can be beaten, but there was still more work to be done: “Our aim is one day everyone will beat cancer and the more research we can fund, the sooner that day will come. It’s not just technology or knowledge that we need to win our fight against cancer – it’s funding” she said.
Just four cancers – lung, bowel, breast and prostate – account for almost half of all cancer deaths. Lung cancer is still the most common, although Scottish lung cancer death rates in men have fallen by 39 per cent since 1990.
The Scottish Government have released figures showing last year 94.5 per cent of suspected cancer patients started treatment within 62 days of urgent referral, narrowly missing the target of 95 per cent.
Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “The simple truth is, more people are surviving because treatments are better and more people are getting checked earlier. The earlier cancer is found, the easier it is to treat and the more likely you are to survive. That is why we are telling the public not to get scared, get checked and why we will do everything we can to ensure that once they get checked they get treatment as quickly as possible.”
Labour’s health spokesman Neil Findlay pointed out half of Scotland’s health boards missed the 95 per cent referral target. He added: “Early diagnosis is improving in part because of years of campaigning from the marvellous cancer charities we have here. But more needs to be done to ensure quick access to treatment is available for all patients with all types of cancer.”