More than 180,000 people in the UK have waited an excessive amount of time for cancer support, including tests and treatments, over the last decade.
According to analysis from charity Macmillan Cancer Support, the government’s failure to meet targets has put hundreds of thousands of people’s lives at risk.
Chief executive officer at the organisation Gemma Peters stated: “Cancer care is in crisis after years of governments failing to act.”
She added: “Every single person who has faced a worse outcome from their cancer diagnosis because of delays will know the devastating impact that waiting has had on their lives.”
For some, this includes learning their cancer has become incurable due to the delays, which Ms Peters describes as being “categorically unacceptable and entirely avoidable”.
Macmillan Cancer Support’s new campaign called “What Are We Waiting For?” is calling for the government to speed up cancer diagnosis and treatment, after revealing failures to meet waiting time targets and to support NHS cancer services.
The findings also reported that more than 100,000 people have had to face their cancer progressing due to the delays over the last ten years, or have been left with fewer options when it comes to their treatments.
The charity now wants the government to increase funding to deliver integrated care, provide local NHS services with more money, create additional jobs, such as care coordinators, and invest in preventive and rehabilitative measures.
It hopes additional finance will ensure “everyone, everywhere gets the potentially life-saving cancer care they desperately need, on time”.
This comes after April 2023’s Cancer Waiting Times data for England was published. It revealed nearly 50,000 people in April alone waited over a fortnight to see a specialist after being given an urgent GP referral.
This represents the lowest performance for its two-week referral target for six months.
What’s more, over 5,000 people with cancer in England had to wait more than two months to begin their treatment. This is worse than the previous month and performance was lower than in 2021 and early 2022.
In fact, all cancer waiting targets in England failed to be met in April, and performance in each area was worse than the preceding month.
At the same time, the NHS reported the number of people with cancer who are still waiting for treatment after two months following their urgent referral rose to over 3,000 for the last three weeks of April.
Minesh Patel, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, commented on the data, saying the public is continuing to be “let down by a system that simply cannot cope”.
He noted that thousands of people have to face long delays for both their diagnosis and treatment, which not only causes lots of anxiety to the patients and the families, but puts their lives at risk.
To avoid having to wait weeks for a diagnosis, people who have suspicious symptoms should book a Sheffield oncology appointment as soon as possible to find out what they are dealing with.