Welsh get patchy cancer treatment

Patients in Wales are suffering from "key shortfalls" in the provision of cancer treatment, with the availability of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery described as "patchy" in an official report.

A review of the nation's cancer services by the National Assembly's Health and Social Services Committee has revealed that many patients have difficulties in obtaining diagnoses and treatment.

Due to be launched at the Wales Against Cancer conference in Cardiff today (February 5th), the report says that well-planned cancer services with a sound infrastructure are "essential" if patients are to benefit from the improved prognoses provided by modern drugs and therapies.

"However, there remain key shortfalls in the provision of basic cancer treatment in Wales," it warns, adding: "Significant investment is needed to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to provide world-class chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment, now and in the future."

Although the Assembly Government wants all patients to commence cancer treatment within two months of referral via the urgent suspected cancer route, the target is not being met for patients with breast, gynaecological or haematological cancers.

Nor is it being met for those with cancer of the head and neck, upper and lower gastrointestinal cancer, lung cancer and skin cancer.

Conservative health spokesman Jonathan Morgan told the Western Mail that the review presented "a depressing picture of cancer services in Wales".

"We are struggling to get the basics right and the evidence suggests services are very much patchy in Wales," he added.

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