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Cancer survival rates highlight growing wealth divide

25 January, 2005

Sinn Féin health spokesperson, Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd has said that a Westminster Public Accounts Committee report into tackling cancer demonstrates that Government policies are failing the less well off in society.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"The deprivation gap in survival between rich and poor was wider for patients diagnosed with cancer in the late nineties than in the late 1980s. Increases in cancer survival during the 1990s are shown to be significantly associated with a widening deprivation gap in survival.

"These inequalities in survival represented many deaths each year which could have been avoided if all cancer patients had had the same chance of surviving up to five years after diagnosis as patients in the most affluent group.

"Contrary to what the British Health minister John Reid asserted last year when he voiced his opposition to a complete ban on smoking, the evidence proves that more people do die in deprived areas because of smoking and also, almost certainly, because of later presentation to health services with their problems.

"Every cancer patient deserves the best possible treatment and care, regardless of where they live. Improving cancer services must become a priority." ENDS

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