SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has reiterated calls for a metastatic breast cancer audit to be undertaken for the North, and said it should be included within the cancer strategy.
Mr McGrath previously submitted an Assembly question asking how many people have been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in each of the last five years, broken down by health trust area.
He was informed the information was not available.
South Down MLA Mr McGrath said:
“We know on average around 1500 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the North. No other form of cancer has this level of diagnosis. We know our cancer rates continue to increase and while our five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 99% if diagnosed at an early stage, this plummets to 21% if diagnosed at a late stage.
“Information like this is key in evaluating where our health service stands with treating conditions like secondary breast cancer and identifying areas that we need to improve on so that we can plan for the future and provide better care. Metastatic breast cancer is a death sentence for many women, but it doesn’t have to be.
“It will only be through an audit being carried out into metastatic breast cancer that we will be able to effectively plan services. This needs to be in our cancer strategy which is waiting to be published, and form part of future planning. If the Department will not commission such an audit, they need to answer why.”