North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay is supporting a charity’s call for a new long term strategy to ensure cancer patients are diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible.
The Sinn Féin MLA has endorsed the Cancer Research campaign by attending a special reception at Stormont.
A comprehensive cancer strategy would identify priorities, set goals and allocate resources to ensure that cancer services in Northern Ireland can cope with rising demand.
Thanks to research, survival rates for cancer have doubled in the last 40 years. But with more and more people being diagnosed, Cancer Research says action is urgently needed to save more lives.
Mr McKay said: “We must not underestimate the devastating impact that cancer has on families in North Antrim now and in the future.
“The good news is that cutting-edge research carried out by charities like Cancer Research is turning the tables on the disease, but it is clear there is a critical role for politicians to play in ensuring our cancer services are fit for the future.
“The political drive to beat cancer must match the pace of progress in research. That’s why I’m backing Cancer Research’s call for a comprehensive cancer plan for the North , and joining the fight to beat cancer sooner.”
Every year around 9,000 people are diagnosed with cancer* here in the north. Cancer incidence rates in the north of Ireland have increased by 11% over the last decade**.
However, death rates from cancer have fallen by six per cent in the north of Ireland in the last ten years.
Cancer Research UK spends £2million a year on life saving research in the north, including at the CRUK Belfast Centre.
Margaret Carr, Cancer Research UK’s public affairs manager for Northern Ireland, said: “Increasing numbers of people are receiving a cancer diagnosis, yet NI Health Service funds are tighter than ever. That’s why a cancer strategy which sets out a long term vision of where to target our resources is desperately needed so we can make sure patients are not left anxiously waiting for diagnostic tests or their cancer treatment to start.
“We are grateful for the support of the MLAs who joined us at Stormont to back our campaign and look forward to making a new cancer plan a reality for Northern Ireland.”
For more information about the work of Cancer Research UK, visit cruk.org