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‘Distressing’ new stats show four in 10 people with cancer in Wales didn’t start their treatment on time

19 May 2022 3 minute read
Picture by JBLM PAO (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Statistics showing four in 10 people with cancer in Wales didn’t start their treatment on time are “distressing”, Macmillan Cancer Support has said.

The latest data, published today, shows that in March only 58.7% of cancer patients started their treatment within 62 days – well below the national target that 75% should start their treatment on time.

This was a drop on the previous month’s figures of 59.5%. It means that during March alone, at least 711 people faced delays in receiving vital cancer treatments.

The March data marks two years since the first coronavirus lockdown and Macmillan warns it shows how the cancer care system is continuing to struggle to cope with a rise in demand as an aftereffect of the pandemic.

In March alone, more than 15,300 referrals were made for suspected cancer in Wales, the highest number since the new way of measuring cancer waiting times in Wales started.

Richard Pugh, Head of Partnerships for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales said: “These worsening cancer waiting times show that more than four in 10 people with cancer in Wales did not start their treatment on time in March meaning they and their loved ones faced distressing and worrying delays.

“We are particularly concerned at the variation in waiting times between cancer types – for example, just 1 in 4 with gynaecological cancers started their treatment on time.

“Two years on from the first coronavirus lockdown, it shows how our cancer care system is struggling to cope with demand despite the valiant efforts of NHS staff.

“Just yesterday the Welsh Government announced a new NHS executive to drive improvements as well as recently announcing a commitment to publishing a Wales Cancer Services Action Plan later this year, which are welcome developments.

“However, we need urgent focus to improve cancer care in Wales now and in the future, including a dedicated cancer workforce plan with the right funding as Macmillan’s own research shows we need 80 per cent more cancer nurses in Wales by the end of the decade.

The new Suspected Cancer Pathway target came into effect from 1 December 2020. It set the target that at least 75% of patients should start treatment within 62 days (without suspensions) of first being suspected of cancer.

In March 2022, 58.7% (1,007 out of 1,720) of pathways started their first definitive treatment within 62 days of first being suspected of cancer.

For advice, information or a chat with Macmillan, call 0808 808 0000 or visit

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