MACMILLAN Cancer Support has welcomed an improvement in cancer treatment waiting times in Wales but warns that significant pressures are yet to come.

The charity has also called out the inequalities that exist within cancer treatment in Wales, highlighting that people with some forms of cancer are waiting far longer than others for their treatment to begin.

Using data for August, published last week, Macmillan points to urological cancers as an example – where half of people with urological cancer had to wait at least 87 days or more for their treatment to begin from the point their cancer was first suspected. 

The charity also warns that while any improvement in waiting times must be welcomed, the significant challenges of additional winter demands and expected NHS budget pressures are all set to potentially impact on cancer treatment in the future.

Glenn Page, Macmillan Policy Manager for Wales said: “This data shows a welcome improvement, at a time when Wales cannot afford to take a single step backwards when it comes to providing the timely, high-quality care that people with cancer need.

“But this improvement must not mask the fact that in August – a month free of the additional pressures of winter – more than 750 people with cancer still faced devastating delays in their care. 


“As we head into the winter period and continue to work against a backdrop of increasing cancer referrals, the Welsh Government must protect cancer services from budgetary pressures and improve support for people living with cancer. 

“Urgent action is also needed from Welsh Government to tackle inequalities in cancer waiting times, with an unrelenting focus on improving things for those facing the longest waits."

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The Minister has made access to cancer treatment a priority and is pleased to see two consecutive months of improvement in cancer performance, which is the result of hard work by clinical teams and managers across the NHS in Wales.

“We are seeing year-on-year increases in demand for cancer investigation and we are investing heavily in cancer services to improve diagnosis and provide rapid access to high-quality care.

“We have launched this year a national intervention to support recovery in waiting times for cancers, such as urological, with the lowest cancer performance.”