The local Member of Parliament for Torfaen, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, today issued a statement raising awareness of cancer risks, following a virtual meeting with Cancer Research UK for World Cancer Day.
World Cancer Day is an annual event to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. This year, World Cancer Day takes place amidst the coronavirus pandemic which has forced health systems around the globe to temporarily reduce or halt cancer treatment. During their briefing, Cancer Research UK informed the Torfaen MP that across the United Kingdom disruption caused by the first lockdown meant the cancer screening waiting list now stood at over 3,000,000 patients.
Alarmingly, whilst patients arriving in hospital with cancer symptoms has begun to return to the rates Cancer Research UK would expect in a normal year, urgent referrals for patients with suspected lung cancer have remained low. Cancer Research UK are concerned that people with lung cancer may be mistaking their symptoms for COVID-19.
Symptoms of lung cancer can include: a cough that doesn’t go away after 2 or 3 weeks, a long-standing cough that gets worse, chest infections that keep coming back, coughing up blood, an ache or pain when breathing or coughing, persistent breathlessness, persistent tiredness or lack of energy, and loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss.
In his statement, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP made an urgent appeal to Torfaen residents to consult their GP if they suspected they might have one or more of these symptoms.
Mr Thomas-Symonds MP has been a passionate campaigner for cancer-related issues throughout his time in Parliament. In 2015, the Torfaen MP introduced the Off-Patents Drug Bill to Parliament, which was designed to ensure patient access to old drugs that had been proven effective for treating other diseases, including cancer. After his Bill was filibustered by the UK Government, Nick Thomas-Symonds worked with MP’s to secure amendments to the Government’s own Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Bill, ensuring that the provisions of his Bill made it into law in 2016.
The Torfaen MP’s successful campaigning on repurposed drugs and other cancer-related issues has had tangible, lifesaving benefits. Since April 2018, bisphosphonates, drugs nominally used to manage osteoporosis, have for the first time been accessible to breast cancer patients being treated at Velindre, including his constituents in Torfaen. Mr Thomas-Symonds MP has also been a patron of the “Friends of the Breast Unit for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board” since 2019, supporting their fundraising efforts to build a new Breast Care Unit for patients.
Nick Thomas-Symonds MP commented:
“This pandemic has had a profound impact on the delivery of treatment in cancer wards up and down the United Kingdom.
“Speaking with Cancer Research UK on World Cancer Day today, I thanked them for their magnificent work supporting patients and helping cancer wards bounce back from this crisis.
“According to Cancer Research UK, the identification of many cancers has now thankfully returned to pre-pandemic levels. But, worryingly, lung cancer has not, and I share their concerns that patients with lung cancer may be mistaking their symptoms for COVID-19.
“I urge all Torfaen residents who suspect they have lung cancer symptoms, please consult your GP.”
You can donate to Cancer Research UK here: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/get-involved/donate.
Find out more information about lung cancer, including symptoms, here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lung-cancer/.