Holyrood warned on cancer support as figures rise

The rise in the incidence of breast cancer is party due to increased screening and detection. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The rise in the incidence of breast cancer is party due to increased screening and detection. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A CHARITY has warned Scotland’s cancer support system “isn’t working” and called for a new Scottish Government plan amid figures showing cases have risen by 14 per cent in ten years.

Macmillan in Scotland said the figures are “a stark reminder of the growing number of people being diagnosed with cancer”.

The figures illustrate the need for a better support service for people with the physical, practical, emotional and financial problems cancer causes.

Elspeth Atkinson

With three-quarters of cancers diagnosed in people aged 60 and over, Macmillan said the figures illustrate the pressures of an ageing population.

In 2014, 31,711 people in Scotland were diagnosed with cancer, up from 27,820 ten years ago, according to figures from the NHS Information Services Division (ISD Scotland).

Rates have decreased by 3 per cent for men to 15,528 but increased by six per cent for women to 16,183. Lung cancer remains the most common cancer in Scotland, with 5307 diagnoses in 2014, followed by breast cancer (4610) and colorectal cancer (3721).

Lung cancer has fallen 14 per cent in males but risen 11 per cent in females, reflecting historic trends in the prevalence of smoking which have differed between men and women, according to ISD Scotland.

Breast cancer has risen by seven per cent, partly due to increased screening and detection, but the rise in older mothers, falling family size, obesity and alcohol are all thought to be contributing factors.

Colorectal cancer has decreased by three per cent in women and a “significant” seven per cent in men, with diet, physical activity and long-term smoking thought to be contributing factors.

Elspeth Atkinson, director of Macmillan in Scotland, said: “These figures are a stark reminder of the growing number of people being diagnosed with cancer.

“An ageing population means more of us will be living with cancer and other long-term conditions.

“The figures illustrate the need for a better support service for people with the physical, practical, emotional and financial problems cancer causes. The current system isn’t working, which is why the cancer plan must be delivered by the new Scottish Parliament.”

Gregor McNie, public affairs manager at Cancer Research UK in Scotland, said: “While these statistics show that the number of people being diagnosed with cancer is increasing, the good news is that thanks to research, cancer survival has doubled since the 1970s. Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress.

“However, we mustn’t stop here. The rising numbers of people diagnosed means there is more strain than ever on cancer services and it’s vital that the Scottish Government acts swiftly on its £100 million cancer plan and focuses resources where they’re most needed.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com