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Better Cancer Care for Scotland

The Scottish government has unveiled an action plan designed to reduce the time taken to begin cancer treatment

The Scottish government has unveiled an action plan designed to reduce the time taken to begin cancer treatment, improve the quality of life for those living with cancer and to adopt the latest technology.

The plan contains actions and targets at all stages from prevention, detection and diagnosis through to treatment, living with cancer and quality of care.

A key part of the initiative is the introduction of 'two view' breast screening, where each breast is X-rayed twice in order to detect early tumours.

Other measures include starting treatment within 31 days from the date a decision to treat is made and a focus on 'survivorship' as more people are successfully treated and, are living with and beyond cancer.

Around £500,000 will be invested in the Macmillan Cancer Support network, which plans to trial a support programme to help people with cancer return to work.

Scotland's health secretary, Nicola Sturgeon said: "Cancer will affect most of us at some stage in our lives, be it personally or through the impact it has on a family member, friend or colleague. I believe it is essential we ensure the right services are in place at the time when patients and their families need it most.”

Prevention is a key focus of the plan with the government keen to continue with ambitious programmes to reduce the number of smokers in Scotland. In 2007, lung cancer accounted for 29 per cent of cancer deaths in men and 25 per cent in women.

"While treatment is getting better, it is really important that we all do what we can to reduce the need for treatment. There's a lot we can do to prevent cancer through stopping smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, eating healthily and taking more exercise,” said Scotland's chief medical officer, Dr Harry Burns.

Progress and implementation of the plan will be overseen by a new Scottish cancer taskforce, chaired by the deputy chief medical officer Aileen Keel CBE.

28th October 2008

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