PEOPLE in South Lakeland are choosing not to undergo cancer treatment because of long travel distances, a House of Commons debate heard.

The debate was secured by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Radiotherapy, which is chaired by South Lakes MP Tim Farron.

Mr Farron said the nearest radiotherapy centre being a two to three hour round trip away for most people in the South Lakes had resulted in a substantive number of patients opting out of treatment.

He also referenced that the British Institute of Radiology had calculated that in areas where access to radiotherapy is poor, 20 per cent of people who should be getting radiotherapy are not getting it.

“For those living in Garsdale, Langdale or Coniston, those trips could be five or six hours, or far longer on public transport, every day for weeks," said Mr Farron. "Those are ludicrous distances to travel to receive vital lifesaving treatment, and that is why we want a satellite of the Rosemere unit to be based at Westmorland General Hospital.

“I spoke to one lady over 80 years of age who was recommended a course of radiotherapy. She decided to forego that treatment because of the distance she would have to travel. She did not have the option of a shorter journey, so she has instead taken the option of a shorter life. And she is not alone.

“People should have the best treatment for their cancer, and where at all possible they should have it close to home—because shorter journeys equals longer lives.”

Shorter Journeys, Longer Lives was the name of a campaign that ran in The Westmorland Gazette which resulted in a march through Kendal demanding a radiotherapy centre at the town's hospital.

In response, health minister Seema Kennedy said: “We need to do more to increase cancer survival rates.

“We have a very ambitious target. I am happy to work with all honourable members to ensure that radiotherapy is a vital part of the battle against cancer.”