Cancer will hit 300,000 Scots within six years
SCOTLAND is facing a cancer time bomb, with at least 300,000 people predicted to be living with the disease by 2025, a leading charity has warned.
The new number of sufferers – roughly one in 18 Scots – will have increased from the current total of 250,000 in only five years and represents a rise of around a third over the past decade.
Campaigners say that the frightening figures will require decisive Scottish Government action as the NHS struggles under the weight of the problem.
Macmillan Cancer Support calculated the 2025 figure using national cancer data.
The current total is up nearly 14 per cent from 2015, when 220,000 people were living with the illness or its aftermath. The figures include all those who are living with cancer or have ever been diagnosed with it, even if now cancer-free.
Head of Macmillan in Scotland, Janice Preston, said: ‘The staff who work in the NHS and social care do some of the toughest jobs in the country. They want to give people with cancer the care and support they deserve, but they’re struggling under the weight of the ever-increasing numbers of people who need their help.
‘It’s heartbreaking to hear from staff who feel they’re failing cancer patients because they just don’t have enough time. It’s devastating when people with cancer tell us they did not ask for help that they desperately need as they didn’t want to burden overworked staff.
‘The Scottish Government has committed itself to publishing a workforce plan to tackle the issues in the system.
‘We look forward to seeing a fully funded plan that sets out how it will ensure hard-working staff can give people with cancer the care they deserve now and in the future.
‘We’re also working hard to ensure our own services – funded almost
‘Feel they are failing patients’
entirely by public donations – can be there for as many people with cancer as possible.’
The most common cancer diagnoses in Scotland are lung, bowel, breast and prostate.
More people are surviving because of major advances in treatment. But Scots are also living longer and are more likely to develop cancer the older they are.
Macmillan said the rising number of patients with a cancer diagnosis underlines the challenge that faces cancer care in Scotland.
Almost one in five patients waits longer than the six-week target for vital diagnostic tests, amid staff shortages across the NHS.
Macmillan’s warning comes as finance watchdog Audit Scotland, Holyrood’s cross-party group on cancer and the Royal College of Nursing have issued separate calls for workforce planning in the NHS to be prioritised.
In spring this year, a ‘Cancer Patient Experience Survey’ found that among those cancer patients who wanted it, 40 per cent did not receive enough care and support from health or social services during treatment.
Around a third were not offered all the practical advice and support they needed to deal with the sideeffects of their treatment, while just over one in ten found it difficult to contact their specialist cancer nurse.
Macmillan and the Scottish Government have recently announced a joint £18million project to provide cancer patients across the country with access to a support worker and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of care.
The charity said that this would go a long way to helping people with cancer but stressed adequate numbers of medical and social care staff are ‘vital’.
‘Devastating’: Janice Preston