Nearly 4 in 10 cancers have “modifiable risk factors” such as smoking and obesity

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today demanded swifter action to hit much-missed cancer treatment time targets as the latest edition of annual statistics warned that nearly 4 in 10 cancers can be attributed to modifiable risk factors such as smoking and obesity.

The report Cancer Incidence in Scotland provides an annual update of cancer incidence statistics in Scotland from 1993 to 2017. It shows:

  • People who live in the more deprived areas of Scotland are a third more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than those living in the least deprived areas.
  • Nearly 4 in 10 cancers can be attributed to potentially modifiable risk factors: cigarette smoking, being overweight and some occupational risk factors are among the largest cancer risks to the Scottish population.

The latest statistics published by ISD Scotland show 82.7% of patients started cancer treatment within the 62 day standard during the quarter ending December 2018, down from 87.1% for the same quarter the year before. The 62 day standard was met by just one NHS Board - NHS Lanarkshire.

Mr Cole-Hamilton commented:

“SNP ministers have admitted that they don’t expect to meet the 62 day cancer treatment target until 2021. A cancer diagnosis is a deeply distressing time for patients and their families. They deserve to see swifter action from the Scottish Government.

“We also need to see a sharper focus on tackling the risk factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol and obesity which contribute to a significant proportion of these diagnoses. The Government needs to further emphasise the risks posed by unhealthy life choices, starting with increasing the minimum unit price of alcohol.”

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