Speech by Janet at Cancer Research UK's Annual Reception in the Senedd

Pnawn da,


Foneddigion a boneddigesau, a chroeso!


It is estimated that 160,000 people in Wales will be living with Cancer by 2020.


That would mean a 45% increase in one decade.


Every day, there are around 60 new cancer cases in Wales.


Combating cancer places a significant demand on the health service, as is indicated by the fact that our NHS saw 10,111 urgent suspected cancer referrals in September.


Sadly, over 700 individuals die with Cancer in Wales every month.


Currently, around 50% of cancer patients survive, so I am sure you all will join with me in backing Cancer Research’s aim of seeing 3 in 4 people survive their cancer by 2034.


This is no easy task.


There are 200 types of cancer.


Here in Wales, the most prevalent are breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer.


Breast Cancer has been a major concern for me as an Assembly Member representing constituents resident within Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.


For example, I had one constituent with suspected breast cancer who provided with 5 different appointments to visit the clinic, and waited in the end waited 24 days for an urgent assessment.


I must acknowledge that the Minister listened to me.


I received assurances that following poor performance, the health board now has a plan in place for service improvement, including the recruitment of new radiologists.


However, there is more the Welsh Government could do, such as:


  • provide a target time from referral to the first clinic appointment
  • Ensure that we have the right cancer workforce with the right skills in place
  • And deliver a strategy for cancer research which sets ambitious priorities for Wales


Wales has a strong history of research into cancer.

  • The Bangor North West Cancer Research Institute has been using human cell lines to investigate tumour invasion and metastasis and to identify novel cancer markers that can be used in diagnostics and treatments; looking at mechanisms that maintain genome stability and thus prevent cancer; and collaborating with clinicians in Liverpool to improve treatment.
  • Prifysgol Aberystwyth investigated the novel idea of combining MRI and ultrasound results to give a more detailed initial map of where prostate cancer is present in the body.
  • And here in Cardiff the University has strengths covering the full spectrum of pre-clinical, translational and clinical research.


My point is that across Wales we are already trying to combat cancer, and have a platform where further work could flourish.


I can think of nowhere better to look for help on how to achieve this than to the one organisation which has made a truly global contribution to the field.


Cancer Research UK


It is the world’s largest charitable funder of cancer research.


This is only possible thanks to the selflessness of over 40,000 volunteers and donors.


Just listen to this, donations made up 64% of the charity’s income in 2018/19.


The organisation has delivered, and some of its excellent achievements include


  • developing 8 of the world’s top 10 cancer drugs
  • Undertaking the biggest prostate cancer clinical trial to date, showing that a one-off PSA test doesn't save lives
  • And funding over £4m of research here in Wales last year


Nobody can deny the positive impact Cancer Research is having, so it is both my honour, and that of the National Assembly for Wales, for me to be hosting this event today.


All that remains is for me to invite Sarah Woolnough, Executive Director of Policy, to explain more about your excellent organisation and how we can all help each other make Wales a world leader in cancer research.