On 4 February 2019, local Member for Parliament, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, with fellow Parliamentarians, lent his support to promote awareness of kidney cancer and the importance of early diagnosis. Hosted by Kidney Cancer UK, Mr. Thomas-Symonds attended a parliamentary session organised to mark the first day of Kidney Cancer Awareness Week, which runs from 4th – 8th February.

According to statistics provided by Cancer Research UK, in 2015, kidney cancer was the seventh most common cancer in adults in the UK, there were around 12,547 new cases of kidney cancer in the UK in 2015. This equates to roughly 34 cases diagnosed every day. Kidney Cancer UK aims to raise the profile of kidney cancer across the UK and open up the dialogue around how this cancer impacts patients and their families.

In the most recent patient survey performed revealed an urgent need for a national screening programme it was established that 47% of patients are diagnosed at stage 3 or later where the prognosis is much worse and 45% of patients received treatment for an unrelated illness prior to their kidney cancer diagnosis. In response to these findings, Kidney Cancer UK is calling on the UK Government to support their research into a national kidney cancer screening programme.

According to Cancer Research UK, if cancer spreads, effective treatment becomes more difficult though cancer spotted at an earlier point makes a real difference. For example, more than 9 in 10 bowel cancer patients will survive the disease for more than five years if diagnosed at the earliest stage, similarly, more than 80% of lung cancer patients will survive for at least a year if diagnosed at the earliest stage compared to around 15% for people diagnosed with the most advanced stage of disease.

Mr. Thomas-Symonds has been a passionate campaigner on cancer-related issues since his election in 2015. His work in 2016 improved access to repurposed drugs when Mr. Thomas-Symonds worked across parties in Parliament to amend the Access to Medical Treatments (Innovations) Bill utilising provisions of his own Private Members Bill which had been talked out only months earlier, to widen the use of repurposed drugs across the UK. Subsequently, the Welsh Government has announced that bisphosphonates, primarily used for osteoporosis, repurposed to prevent primary breast cancer to spreading to the bone in many patients, became available at the Velindre Cancer Centre from April 2018.

Nick Turkentine, Chief Executive of Kidney Cancer UK, stated:

“There must be a national kidney cancer screening programme in place within the next  five years with trials being undertaken in the next two years. If the Government hit their 2028 target, by current figures of around 4,600 deaths per year (and rising) a minimum 46,000 people will die from kidney cancer. 10 years is not soon enough for patients and their families, we need action now or kidney cancer patients will be left behind.”

When asked about awareness, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP said:

“Early diagnosis really is vital. When first elected by my constituents in 2015, I was determined to make a difference for cancer patients. I feel privileged to be in a position where I can help promote awareness of this important message, and I will continue to support cancer-relates causes in the future.”

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