NHS Wales aims to speed up cancer diagnosis, helping those suffering with asbestos-related cancers

Posted: 23rd Nov 18 8:30 AM

In an effort to speed up diagnoses and improve survival rates, Wales will become the first nation in the UK to introduce new single waiting time targets for cancer patients, potentially helping those suffering with asbestos lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Waiting times for cancer treatments for patients will start as soon as cancer is suspected, rather than just for those with clear symptoms.

The new waiting time, with a two-month target, will start from next June and is expected to replace the current “two-track” system.

What happens at the moment?

Currently, there are urgent and non-urgent routes to get treatment for cancer. There are concerns that current cancer targets are not reflecting the long delays faced by some patients waiting for diagnosis or treatment.

If you are in the urgent category, and the signs of cancer are obvious, your GP will refer you to hospital and treatment is supposed to start within 62 days.

If your symptoms are more unclear, vague, or if there is only a suspicion you could have cancer, you might face months of being referred between different parts of the NHS before the cancer is diagnosed.

Only after diagnosis does the clock start for treatment, but you’re still on a non-urgent 31-day wait – seemingly faster, but you have already been waiting for a diagnosis.

With the proposed new method, all patients suspected of having cancer would be treated at the same time, with each getting a 62-day treatment target from the day cancer is suspected.

How could this help those suffering from asbestos-related cancers?

Asbestos-related cancers, such as mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer aren’t usually discovered or diagnosed until they are in their late stages, when tumours have grown and spread and symptoms are most severe.

Life expectancy for mesothelioma is very short, averaging between 1 and 2 years after diagnosis, and this is usually down to how late the cancer is caught.

If the asbestos cancer is found sooner, in earlier stages, the possibility for a patient to undergo treatment and surgery is greatly increased.

If you or someone you know is ever diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the National Asbestos Helpline. We’re here to help you with advice about your condition and can also advise on any benefits and/ or compensation you might be entitled to. Call us on Freephone 0800 043 6635, or email enquiries@nationalasbestos.co.uk.

Further reading

How many stages of mesothelioma are there?

What are the warning signs of mesothelioma?

How long does it take to develop an asbestos-related disease?

What is the asbestos compensation claims process?