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Last Updated: Friday, 22 June 2007, 05:33 GMT 06:33 UK
Future cancer challenge for NHS
Cancer survival rates are on the rise
Increasing cancer survival rates will create challenges for the Welsh NHS in the future, experts have predicted.

It comes two days after the head of the NHS in Wales said change was needed to deal with a rise in chronic conditions, which are those that cannot be cured.

Recent medical advances now mean patients with some forms of cancer can manage their illness in the same way as people with ongoing chronic diseases.

Professor Tim Maughan and a Tenovus spokesman said it meant new challenges.

Prof Maughan, a consultant clinical oncologist at Velindre Hospital, said some of the newer drugs gave "really excellent" quality of life to cancer patients.

"I think we are just at the beginning of this curve - there are so many new ideas and opportunities for new treatments for cancer," he said.

I've never enjoyed my life so much. What I took for granted before, I don't anymore
Mike Evans

He said this led to two "major challenges" for the NHS.

"In terms of the actual workload in the clinics, the same number of people are being diagnosed but they are living longer, they are still needing regular reviews and they are being looked after by specialists so our clinics are getting fuller," he said.

"The second thing is actually the costs of the drugs and some of these agents are extremely expensive."

However, he added that the issue should not be overestimated as there was still "a very long way to go" with treatments for conditions such as lung cancer and bowel cancer.

Simon Morgan Jones, health education officer for Tenovus, agreed that there had not been improvements in the cure rates for some cancers for years.

However, he said it was great news that better overall survival rates were increasing, and changing the way the disease was dealt with.

"It indicates we are curing more people long-term and the suggestion that, with things like prostate cancer disease, we are looking at chronic disease management in many cases," he said.


Mike Evans, from Llangeinor, near Bridgend, said he thought his life was over when he was diagnosed with oesophagus cancer.

Mike Evans
Mike Evans thanked NHS staff for their part in his recovery

"I was so negative with it, I was thrown from being relatively healthy into this disease which everybody associates with death, which I have learned isn't the case any more," he said.

Mr Evans, 62, who underwent chemotherapy, radiotherapy and then an eight-hour operation to fight the cancer, had nothing but praise for all of the NHS staff who had helped him.

"I had various tests and this programme they put in front of me to rid me of this disease was absolutely fantastic. They were absolutely wonderful and still are today."

Mr Evans added that early detection had been the key in his case and he urged people to seek immediate advice if they feel something is wrong.

"I've never enjoyed my life so much. What I took for granted before, I don't anymore, I assure you," he said.

"Every day I wake up and think 'this is great.'"

"I was so negative with it"

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