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Nearly half Wales cancer patients face delays in lifesaving treatments

22 Sep 2022 3 minute read
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Macmillan Cancer Support is warning that nearly half (46.5%) of people with cancer in Wales are now being left to face anxious delays in lifesaving cancer treatments.

Published today, the latest data from the Welsh NHS shows that in July alone more than 740 cancer patients were not treated within the nationally set target of 62 days; below Wales’ aim of treating 75 per cent of people on time.

The latest statistics record the second lowest level of performance since current data collections began.

“These figures reveal the stark truth that nearly half of people with cancer, people who may already have experienced significant delays in their initial diagnosis during the pandemic, are now also being met with delays in receiving life-saving treatment,” Head of Partnerships for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales Richard Pugh said.

“Wales’ cancer care system is now working harder than ever before, with an unprecedented level of demand for life saving care and treatment.  Yet the harsh reality is that the system is simply not able to keep up with this demand.

“It is a crisis that will only continue to deepen unless Wales sees both a radical investment into cancer services and the development of a clear strategic direction that will put the right staff and facilities in place to meet demand both now and in the future.”

“Macmillan continues to do everything it 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”

Treatment targets

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 of first being suspected of cancer.

The Welsh Government’s planned care recovery plan also established a new target of 80% of people being treated within 62 days by 2026.

In July, only 53.5% (853 out of 1,594) of pathways started their first definitive treatment within 62 days of first being suspected of cancer, 9.9% lower than July 2021 and is the second lowest figure since the current data series began. 

The data published also reveals significant variation in treatment times for different cancer types, with waiting times for tumours such as head and neck, gynaecological and urological cancers showing as few as 32.3% of patients starting their treatment on time.


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