Campaigner’s widow backs calls for cancer diagnosis hub

Plaid Cymru

The widow of campaigner Irfon Williams has backed renewed calls for a cancer diagnosis centre in North Wales.

Plaid Cymru say new figures claim people in the region have a much higher chance of developing cancer than elsewhere in Wales.

Becky Williams, from Bangor, whose husband died three years ago after battling bowel cancer, said she backed the party’s call for a rapid diagnosis hub to be built.

She said: ”Wales has some of the poorest outcomes in Europe for bowel cancer – and one of the lowest cancer survival rates in Europe.”

”We know that early diagnosis and treatment of not just bowel cancer but all cancers lead to improved outcomes for patients. An early diagnosis is the difference between life and death – it’s as simple as that.”

According to North West Cancer Research, which runs an institute at Bangor University, North Wales has higher rates of head, neck and colon cancers than the rest of Wales.

Three of the six counties surveyed also have ”markedly higher rates” of breast cancer than the national average – across the North, overall rates are around 15% higher.

The report also states the region has a number of ‘specific health challenges’.

Plaid also cite a separate study by Swansea University, which found waiting times for patients at rapid diagnostic centres were cut to less than six days – down 92% in the first year.

Arfon AM Sian Gwenllian said: ”Patients in north Wales deserve parity of care and service. That’s why Plaid Cymru is calling for investment in the development of a diagnostic centre here in north west Wales to ensure early diagnosis and better outcomes for our patients.”

Mabon ap Gwynedd, the party’s candidate for Dwyfor Meirionydd at next year’s Assembly elections, added: ”The Welsh Government have piloted rapid diagnostic centres in the two of the south Wales health board areas and they’ve been hailed a massive success.”

”Patients in Dwyfor Meirionnydd and across north Wales deserve parity of service which is why Plaid Cymru is pushing for investment in the development of diagnostic centres here to ensure early diagnosis and better outcomes for our patients.”

Irfon Williams helped to raise over £150,000 to support patients on the Alaw Unit at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor, through the North Wales charity, Awyr Las.

He went onto successfully campaign for the drug Cetuximab to be made available in Wales, after being forced to move over the border for specialist treatment.

Mr Williams died in May 2017 after his cancer spread to his lung and abdomen. Posthumously, he won a People’s Campaigner award at the ITV Cymru Wales political awards.

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