A new strategy to fight cancer has been launched across the Fylde coast.
The five-year plan aims to boost the number of early diagnoses, improve survival rates, reduce waiting times for treatment, and offer overall better care.
It comes after the number of people being diagnosed with lung, breast, skin, and bowel cancer has ‘steadily increased’ over the past 15 years.
“Our objective is to work to deliver services that are affordable, sustainable, and effective,” chief operating officer at Blackpool Commissioning Group (CCG), David Bonson, said.
“More specifically, working with partners to improve the one-year and five-year cancer survival rates, improve cancer waiting times (two week, 31 days, and 62-day waits), improve the quality of life for Fylde coast cancer patients, promote self-care and management of patients’ own care, and identify and support the design and implementation of innovative services.”
As well as increasing locally, the number of cancers caused by lifestyle choices – primarily smoking and obesity – has now hit four in 10, documents show.
In Blackpool, around 26 per cent of people smoke, well above the national average, while drinking and smoking are heavily linked to extreme deprivation, as seen in some parts of the town.
The strategy outlines: “We need to continue to raise awareness of the impact risk factors have on health, esepcially in selected populations, and support people to make changes.
“Efforts to tackle smoing rates should continue at pace, with the ultimate aim of reaching five per centre in adults by 2035.”
All patients being treated for cancer should be given tailored advice on healthy eating, weight control, physical activity levels, smoking cessation, and alcohol consumption.”
In 2014/15, around 2,110 people were treated for cancer on the Fylde coast, while 3,000 in Blackpool are thought to be living with a previous diagnosis, papers also showed.
And by encouraging people to be screened – people are less likely to do so in poorer areas, it was found – or see their doctors if they have any concerns, experts believe cancer will be detected quicker, leading to more effective treatment.
However, with the CCGs and trust working to make savings in the face of government cuts – some parts of the strategy will be at risk.
The strategy, launched by Blackpool CCG, Fylde and Wyre CCG, and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Trust, read: “The health economy is working in a challenging financial climate and, as a result of this, elements of the strategy which require significant investment may need to be deferred and could be dependent upon efficiencies being made elsewhere in the system.
“The financial plans of the health economy are reviewed and adjusted on an annual basis and therefore it is not possible to assess the longer term risk to the strategy.”
External investment will also be sought.