Chair of the Assembly’s Health Committee and Sinn Fein MLA for Foyle, Maeve McLaughlin, has welcomed calls by cancer charity Cancer Focus for a fresh vision for combating cancer.
Ms. McLaughlin attended the launch of Cancer Focus’ Manifesto earlier this week and said the time had come to change the way in which cancer is addressed in the North.
“Cancer is one of the most significant causes of ill health and disability in our society,” said Ms. McLaughlin.
“It is estimated that one in three of the population will develop a cancer by the age of 75.
“There are approximately 13,000 new cases of cancer in the North annually and around 4,000 unfortunately lose their battle with the disease.”
Ms. McLaughlin said with a projected increase in the number of cancer cases in the North over the next 20 years it is important to be proactive.
“With cancer waiting times worsening and the number of cases of cancer projected to rise considerably between now and 2035 it is time we had a fresh vision for combating cancer.
“Cancer is not confined to any jurisdiction and Sinn Féin is committed to delivering health care on an all-Ireland basis.
“What we need is an over-arching all-Ireland strategy to fight cancer and deliver the best possible service for those in need,” added. Ms McLaughlin.
One of those currently receiving cancer treatment is Terence, (not his real name), a Derry man who was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year.
The help and support available to Terence was he says, “second to none” but he said he would worry how future cases would be treated if medical facilities became overwhelmed.
“It’s no secret that the number of cases of cancer in Derry and throughout the North will increase over the coming decades.
“I was one of the lucky ones. The help and support was available when I was sick but I would have concerns for anyone going through a similar experience in say 15 or 20 years time.
“The time to act is now. We are talking about peoples’ lives. If medical professionals are able to predict a spike in the number of cancer cases then surely the onus is on them to ensure that the help, support and medical treatment is more than sufficient.”