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New Welsh cancer statistics demonstrate the urgent need for more progress

The incidence of brain and central nervous system cancer in Wales has seen only a negligible drop from the previous year.

According to statistics released by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, there were 9.3 newly-diagnosed cases per 100,000 population in 2017 (with 294 cases overall) – a fall of just 0.1 and still higher than the figure of two years ago.

Indeed, among men, the rate, measured using the European Standard Population, rose slightly to 11.4 per 100,000 population; yet, the corresponding value for women is just 7.3.

Furthermore, there remains clear variation in the levels between the seven Welsh Local Health Boards. For example, the number of cases in Powys Teaching Health Board has more than doubled since 2015, while in Cardiff & Vale University Health Board, the rate has plummeted by more than a quarter over the last twelve months.

In May, the first ever brain tumour roundtable in Wales was organised by The Brain Tumour Charity. Featuring healthcare professionals and patient/carer representatives, the meeting enabled attendees to discuss how outcomes for Welsh brain tumour patients could be improved.

Together with neuro-rehabilitation care being underwhelming and conversations on palliative care taking place too late in the patient pathway, the group concluded that care had to be more coordinated. In particular, different professionals were delivering conflicting information to patients, when clarity was of the essence.

In light of the incidence statistics, we will continue to consult with the brain tumour community and listen to their voice on these and other issues, while engaging with Assembly Members to drive positive change for patients.