Martin Whitfield MSP is backing the first Less Survivable Cancers Awareness Day to highlight the critical importance of early diagnosis in improving survival and quality of life for people diagnosed with these cancers.
The LSCT represents six less survivable cancers, lung, liver, brain, oesophageal, pancreatic and stomach, with an average five-year survival rate of just 16%. Together, these less survivable cancers make up nearly half of all common cancer deaths in the UK.
Less survivable cancers are difficult to diagnose. Screening programmes are limited or non-existent and most of the general public are unaware of common symptoms. Data released by the LSCT in 2021 showed that awareness of the symptoms of the deadliest cancers is as low as 4% in the UK.
Many patients with a less survivable cancer will only be diagnosed after an emergency admission to hospital or an emergency GP referral after symptoms have become severe. Over 90,000 people will be diagnosed with either lung, liver, brain, stomach, pancreatic and oesophageal cancer in the UK each year. These six cancers account for more than 67,000 deaths a year – around a half of all cancer deaths.
As well as a focus on symptom awareness, the LSCT is calling for all UK governments to commit to increasing survival rates for less survivable cancers to 28% by 2029 by eliminating avoidable delays in diagnosis and proactively investing in research and treatment options.
Martin Whitfield MSP said:
“I am pleased to speak out for people diagnosed with less survivable cancers and support the first Less Survivable Cancers Awareness Day. We know that early diagnosis is crucial and now is the time to work together and make a real difference in life chances for thousands of people across the country who are diagnosed with these cancers each year.”
The Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce is urging everyone to be aware of the symptoms of these deadly cancers and to seek medical help at the earliest opportunity if they recognise any of the signs.
Typical symptoms will vary but red flags for less survivable cancers could include any of the following; indigestion, abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, a loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing, a persistent cough, unexplained tiredness, headaches or nausea. The key message is to seek medical help swiftly if you notice anything is unusual for you.