More public awareness is key to saving lives, says Dickson, marking Less Survivable Cancers Awareness Day

Ahead of Less Survivable Cancers Awareness Day (Wednesday 11 January), Alliance East Antrim MLA Stewart Dickson has spoken out about his own experience of surviving oesophageal cancer, and the importance of more widespread public awareness around symptoms so that others can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

Stewart Dickson

Less Survivable Cancers Awareness Day aims to raise awareness of the six less survivable cancer types – cancers of the lungs, pancreas, liver, brain, stomach and oesophagus. These cancer types are responsible for almost half of all cancer deaths and make up a quarter of cancer cases each year in the UK. They are difficult to diagnose, due to often vague or non-specific symptoms.

The campaign strives to help people understand potential symptoms of these conditions and improve survival rates with early intervention.

“I am extraordinarily fortunate, in that without lifesaving chemotherapy and major surgery, I would not be a survivor. However, with survival rates of less survivable cancers being so low, the significance of raising their public profile is not lost on me”, said Stewart.

“Tragically, the six less survivable cancers have an average five-year survival rate of only 16%. What’s more, these six cancers account for approximately 40% of all cancer deaths, and more than 90,000 people are diagnosed in the UK every year.

“These cancers can be very difficult to diagnose, especially early on because there is little public awareness of their symptoms. It is crucial we change this, as only with early diagnosis and treatment, can we hope to improve survival rates.

“As a cancer survivor myself, I am in an unenviable club of people who know how important early diagnosis and treatment is when faced with a less survivable cancer. Today is an excellent opportunity to get that message out into the public domain and help inform people of what to look out for.”