Dear Madam, - The interesting article by Meadhbh Monahan on the serious issue of cancer in the Western Trust area clearly proves the serious issue we face and the fact that one in two people are predicted to be diagnosed with this disease in the coming years. I commend our MP Tom Elliott on his interest in the matter and the essential need that exists for continual lobbying in challenging a disease which can lead to devastation for many families in the locality as well as the entire world.

As was stated, 1,300 people are diagnosed in the Western Trust each year and while we should commend and thank our doctors, nurses, palliative care teams for the sterling work they do, they need greater recognition,financial support and investment in tackling cancer rates very definitely.

The Uk has one of the lowest cancer survival rates in Europe with over 10,000 more deaths a year compared with other European countries. It is essential that Westminister needs to tackle this matter and support such areas as our devolved administration at Stormont in improving access to treatments, referral pathways improved and definite focused strategies to tackle areas such as obesity and smoking which can contribute to the disease. Figures I have clearly show that if a patient is diagnosed with bowel cancer at an early stage, it costs the NHS £3,500 but later diagnosis the cost more than triples to £12,500. Quite clearly early diagnosis is both good for the patient as well as in financial resources.

As your readership know I have repeated called for the Health department to set up a Cancer Drugs Fund for Northern Ireland as happens in England as while we have some £40 million spent by the Department in funding cancer treating drugs, there are still somewhere in the region of 39 drugs not available here in comparison to England.

So very clearly we have a massive piece of catching up to do in the cancer intervention and treatments required to meet the need that exists. We must continue at every opportunity to lobby decision makers both here and Westminister to tackle this terrible illness and so see improvements to our peoples quality of life in the years that lie ahead.

Yours faithfully, Councillor Raymond Farrell Erne North.

Fermanagh and Omagh Council