Thank you for getting in touch about support for those living with secondary breast cancer. Research into cancer has brought with it many improvements in the treatment of various cancers and the care that cancer patients can receive. Nevertheless, despite some of the progress that has been made towards overcoming cancer, the experience and care of those for whom the disease is incurable should never be overlooked.
Facing any cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming and that is why Scottish Labour have supported calls for every cancer patient, alongside the assessment of their physical condition, to be offered tailored support for all of their emotional, practical and financial needs. Women with secondary breast cancer should be supported to have the best quality of life possible, especially as they make decisions about their treatment options.
Cancer remains Scotland’s biggest killer. Since the start of the pandemic, over 45,000 people in Scotland have died from cancer. Regrettably, SNP Health Ministers are failing patients with waiting times for diagnostic tests and urgent cancer referrals remaining far too long.
Scottish Labour is committed to ensuring that all patients have the best possible access to NHS cancer treatment. In our National Recovery Plan, we argued that by the end of this parliament there should be a Rapid Diagnostic Centre in every health board so that every patient receives their diagnosis and starts treatment within a maximum of two weeks. In the longer term, we need an ambitious new cancer strategy with clear and measurable targets for a period of five years, backed up by the funding needed to drive change and support life-saving research. This includes ensuring that every cancer patient has a dedicated cancer support worker so they can access the personalised care and support they need.
My colleague Carol Mochan MSP, Scottish Labour’s spokesperson on Women’s Health, has written to the Minister asking for a commitment to improving data collection for secondary breast cancer and the adoption of a national secondary breast cancer audit in the forthcoming Scottish Cancer Strategy.