Hastings Observer Column - 15 February

Cancer is a very real and present danger. Every year, around 1300 people from Hastings and Rye are diagnosed with it.

As a result we likely all know someone who is suffering from this disease or someone we have loved and lost. While these statistics are sobering, there is much to be optimistic about when we look at survivability rates. The key to increasing survivability and quality of life of cancer patients lies with early detection and I am pleased this is something Government is working hard to increase.

We are that just over half – 52 per cent - of cancer cases are detected at early stages, giving patients a significantly higher chance of survival than those detected at a later point. But we know there is more to do.

The Government aims to improve this number to 75% by 2028 and I welcome their overhaul to screening programmes and the introduction of an additional £20 billion for the NHS by 2023/2024, to help improve detection.

To learn more about what we can do, I recently met with World Cancer Day activists in Parliament. It’s a day that stands to help raise awareness of the scale of the challenge we face and the role we can all play in fighting this disease. The cancers caused by obesity and smoking are responsible for most cancers we are faced with today. However, they are completely avoidable. The smoking rate in our towns sits well above the national average of 15.5% at 25.7%. This is something I am keen to address.

I urge anyone looking to quit smoking or for any health questions to contact their local GP or healthcare provider for help and support on how to quit smoking or to start living a healthier lifestyle. As an ex-smoker, I know it is hard to quit – but with the right support it is certainly possible.

I welcome what our Government has done to fight this disease so far, but I will ensure that funding from central Government is delivered to aid our local services so that they can provide the best quality of life for residents.