Welsh Health Minister Sets Program To Tackle Cancer

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A new drive to improve cancer services was announced by Health Minister Edwina Hart.

Mrs Hart published a programme of work for the NHS, regional cancer networks and other groups over the next three years to help prevent cancer, improve early detection and increase access to treatment.

The programme of work includes:

· a review of genetic testing and surveillance of families at risk of certain cancers to ensure that increasing demand is met;

· a national survey of patients' experience of the cancer care they received;

· patient groups, cancer networks and the Cancer Services Co-ordinating Group to review and make recommendations to the Welsh Assembly Government on further waiting times targets;

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· development and implementation of new national standards for children and young people suffering from cancer, rehabilitation, brain cancer and sarcoma; and,

· implementation of the HPV vaccination programme to reduce the risk of cervical cancer, starting in September 2008.

The work programme is the second to be issued following the publication in December 2006 of Designed to Tackle Cancer in Wales. The first set of requirements up to March 2008 have been largely achieved, including reducing cancer waiting times and modernising diagnostic and radiotherapy equipment.

Edwina Hart said: "Tackling cancer and improving cancer services is one of the Assembly Government's top priorities.

"Our targets are to reduce death rates from cancer in those under 75 by 20 per cent by 2012 and to achieve comparable five-year survival rates with the best in Europe by 2015. The new programme of work that I am announcing today will ensure we make further progress towards achieving those goals.

"Although we have more to do, survival rates in Wales for a number of cancers continue to increase. For example, improvement in the rate of survival for patients diagnosed with bowel cancer between 1995 and 1999 compared with the previous five years covering 1990-1994, were among the best in Europe. This improvement was significantly better than the European average.

"Investment by the Welsh Assembly Government in CT and MRI scanners is also helping to speed up and improve diagnosis, resulting in better outcomes for patients, an additional ?4.5m is being made available each year to improve services, and earlier this month, I announced a further ?12million to replace and enhance facilities at the North Wales Cancer Centre.

"The latest cancer waiting times figures also show that patients are being treated faster than ever before with virtually every patient starting their treatment within target times, which will mean an increase in survival rates."

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