Dozens miss out on life-saving surgery

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ALMOST 10 per cent of lung cancer sufferers in Wigan could be missing out on vital surgery to save their lives.

Figures from Cancer Research UK show that of the 4,600 people diagnosed, around 370 patients in the North West may not be put forward for the life-saving operations they need, which equates to eight per cent.

While 21 per cent of Wigan’s patients are receiving major surgery, it is estimated that 16 sufferers miss out due to late diagnosis.

Experts believe that surgery is responsible for around half of the cases where any cancer is cured. And although it is not always appropriate for every patient, it plays a significant role in improving lung cancer survival.

The news comes as the charity launches a new campaign Cross Cancer Out, focusing on the General Election.

Playing on the idea of a ballot paper, it asks election candidates to back a raft of vital measures aimed at ensuring all cancer patients are diagnosed much earlier and have greater access to the best possible treatments.

A spokesman for Cancer Research UK said the figures highlight why political action is urgently needed to help save more lives.

The charity is calling for people in Wigan to make sure their next MP is committed to beating cancer sooner, by e-mailing their election candidates at cruk.org/crosscancerout.

Alison Barbuti, Cancer Research UK spokesman for the North West, said: “We’re urging all election candidates to make a commitment to Cross Cancer Out and help ensure no-one’s life is cut short by the disease.

“The earlier patients can be diagnosed and access the appropriate treatments they need, the more lives will be saved.

“So the government needs to make both of these key priorities if it is serious about improving survival rates across all types of cancer.

“Lung cancer, in particular, is one of the hardest cancers to treat, so it’s unacceptable that so many patients in the North West are missing out on potentially life-saving surgery.

“It may not always be an option if the disease has spread, the patient decides they don’t want to undergo surgery or if they aren’t well enough for the operation.

“But previous research has suggested that some older patients who are eligible for surgery are being overlooked because of their age.

“It’s vital we remove any barriers so that patients who may benefit from surgery are given the option.”

The Cross Cancer Out campaign will focus on a number of key commitments aimed at improving cancer survival in the North West and across the UK, including equal access to innovative radiotherapy, surgery and effective cancer drugs a commitment to increase participation in the national bowel cancer screening programme.

For more information and ways to get involved in the campaign, visit cruk.org/crosscancerout or join the conversation on twitter #CrossCancerOut.