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Yorkshire welcomes cancer taskforce

Yorkshire welcomes cancer taskforce

Published at 6:02am 20th January 2016. (Updated at 10:35am 20th January 2016)

National cancer experts are gathering for the first time in Yorkshire to draw up a new strategy aimed at saving more lives.

The taskforce has been brought together by the charity Yorkshire Cancer Research to tackle what it's calling a "huge" North-South divide in cancer outcomes.

A two-day workshop will concentrate on lung cancer, which is the region's biggest cancer killer, and early diagnosis to help more people survive.

The experts include clinicians, researchers and representatives from Clinical Commissioning Groups and Public Health England.

Yorkshire has the third highest cancer incidence rates in England, mortality rates are higher than the national average and survival rates for many of the most common cancers are below the national average.

Charles Rowett, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: "More investment in tackling regional cancer priorities is urgently needed to begin to close the gap between cancer outcomes in Yorkshire and the rest of the country.

"There are many reasons for the inequalities we see in the North, including high incidence rates, low screening rates, limited access to treatments, social deprivation and late diagnosis.

"By bringing national leaders and local experts together, we will have the knowledge, skills and expertise required to create a comprehensive plan of action that will start to make a real difference."

Lung cancer is the most common cancer in Yorkshire, with around 4,500 people diagnosed every year, and mortality rates are significantly higher than the national average.

Other concerns related to the early diagnosis of cancer include low uptake of screening in some parts of the region.

There are also huge variations in the number of people who present with cancer at a late stage.

Dr Richard Booton, Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer in Respiratory Medicine at the University of Manchester, will chair the lung cancer workshop.

He said: "I spent over 15 years living, training and working in Yorkshire prior to my current position in Manchester. Yorkshire, like the North West, has a high rate of premature death from lung cancer, despite advances in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

"I am delighted to return to help shape the substantial investment of Yorkshire Cancer Research to deliver a much-needed reduction in lung cancer mortality."

Professor Greg Rubin, Professor of General Practice and Primary Care at Durham University, will chair the early diagnosis workshop.

He said: "I'm delighted, as a Yorkshireman and a cancer researcher, to be leading this initiative on behalf of Yorkshire Cancer Research.

"Earlier cancer diagnosis holds the key to improving cancer outcomes for the future. Today, the leading experts in the field have come together to help the charity identify how they can best invest in world-class research into earlier diagnosis for the benefit of the people of Yorkshire."

More information about the charity's work at www.yorkshirecancerresearch.org.uk