Waltham Forest in top ten for improved cancer survival rates

Waltham Forest has been named as one if the top ten areas in the UK where cancer survival rates are most improved, up from 65% in 2011 to 66.6% in 2012.

Dr Naheed Khan-Lodhi, GP and Clinical Director at NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), says: “We are delighted that more people in Waltham Forest are living longer, healthier lives after being diagnosed with cancer. But there is still much more to do and we cannot be complacent. While survival rates are improving in Waltham Forest, they are still lower than the national average.

“Many people are waiting too long before visiting a doctor. It is extremely important to make sure you participate in screening programmes, and to alert your GP if you notice any unexplained changes to your body, such as the sudden appearance of a lump, blood in your urine or a change to your usual bowel habits.”

The CCG is working with Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK to develop tools for GPs that help them diagnose cancer earlier, and with NHS partners and Waltham Forest Council to encourage people to live healthier lifestyles: stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol and being a healthy weight all reduce the risk of developing cancer.

Dr Khan-Lodhi says: “Local community groups and the voluntary sector across our diverse community also have an extremely important role to play in educating people about the signs and symptoms of cancer, and encouraging them to seek GP advice when they experience something that’s not normal for them. Research shows that identifying cancer early saves lives”.

The UK’s cancer survival rates currently lag behind European averages. Many patients are being diagnosed late, which reduces their chances of surviving for more than a year. For instance, around one in four cancer patients in England are diagnosed via an emergency route, and they are on average around twice as likely to die within a year of diagnosis as those diagnosed via an urgent GP referral.