Cancer treatment times improve but half of patients still face anxious delays in Wales

Macmillan Cancer Support has welcomed an improvement in cancer treatment waiting times but warns that far too many people still face anxious delays in Wales.

Responding to data released today, the charity highlights how performance against Wales’ national treatment targets increased in February to 52.5% compared to 50.1% in January, which was the poorest performance on record.

Macmillan warns that while the improvement is welcome, the fact remains that almost 1 in 2 people with cancer are not being treated on time, with February alone seeing 747 people with cancer being left to face anxious delays in their care.

The charity also raises significant concern over a widening variation in treatment times for different types of cancer.

In February almost three quarters of people with head and neck cancer faced delays in receiving vital treatments, with only 27.7% being treated within the target timeframe of 62 days – a 10% reduction from the previous month.

Concerns also exist for lower gastrointestinal and gynaecological cancers, where only around a third of patients received their treatment on time.

Richard Pugh, Head of Partnerships for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales said: “Only last month we warned that people with cancer faced a 50-50 chance of receiving their treatment on time, and any signs that Wales is beginning to reverse that decline must be welcomed.

“However, national targets have never been met in Wales and there has been a consistent downward trend in recent years. While performance does fluctuate, the hope now is that this can become the start of a sustained period of improvement.

“The aim must be that everyone with cancer receives life-saving treatment on time and that people with cancer are spared the huge emotional turmoil of treatment delays, and the anxiety that their condition will worsen while they are forced to wait.

“Wales has a new cancer services improvement plan, and we now need to see leadership from the Welsh Government and sustained, urgent action against that new plan to meet the ambitious target of treating 80% of people with cancer within 62 days.

“While we are still very far away from this target, today’s figures at least represent a welcome step in the right direction.

“Macmillan continues to do everything we can to help, and we are here for anyone with cancer and their loved ones. For advice, information or a chat, you can call us free on 0808 808 0000 or visit”

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