The early diagnosis of cancer is vital, if the disease is to be effectively treated and lives saved.
That was the message from Alliance’s Strangford MLA Kellie Armstrong speaking in an Assembly debate on the provision of cancer services. Kellie Armstrong said: “I speak to support the spirit of this motion, which deals with a very important and emotive subject. Cancer is a disease which causes pain, suffering and ends lives.
“I am extremely thankful that in 2015 Cancer Research UK revealed that more than 50% of people diagnosed with cancer lived more than 10 years. More people are surviving cancer, and that is down largely to the care and dedication from the staff in our hospitals.
“The motion talks about the crisis affecting cancer services, but we cannot forget the almost 400,000 people on all waiting lists, some of whom fail to receive early diagnosis.
“I know from personal experience the consequences of not getting an early diagnosis. For several years my mother felt unwell, was in considerable pain and suffered great weight loss. She felt she was not being listened to and was being dismissed. She was scared and worried about her family. When the diagnosis finally came, my Dad was told on Tuesday that it was advanced. She died on Saturday without being told just how sick she was. Cancer can kill, but waiting for a diagnosis or being on a waiting list is just torturous, and that is unacceptable.
“If we are to receive swift, safe and sustainable healthcare to provide patient safety and treatment, then I urge the Health Minister to ensure the expected cancer services framework includes a mechanism to systematically reduce waiting times and to stringently monitor lists to ensure they do not rise to the levels we have today, where one fifth of our population is on a waiting list.”