Press Release

Minister for Health and Children marks World Cancer Day

Ireland’s cancer survival rates have been increasing faster than most other countries and the National Cancer Control Strategy, approved by Government in 2006 aims to reduce cancer incidence, morbidity and mortality relative to other EU countries and to provide quality assured cancer services.

A major emphasis in the Strategy is prevention and early detection. A key part of the Strategy is the National Cancer Control Programme. Under the programme, headed by Prof Tom Keane, there are four designated cancer control networks and eight cancer centres nationally. Breast cancer services are the first to be transferred into the new centres – this will be completed in 2009.

The Minister is pleased with progress made in the roll-out of national cancer screening programmes. BreastCheck is available in 21 counties and will be introduced in all counties during 2009. 90,335 women were screened under the Programme in 2008. When fully operational at the end of 2009, the Programme will screen 140,000 women per year. The CervicalCheck Programme, launched in 2008, provides free smear tests through primary care settings to the 1.1 million women living in Ireland aged between 25 and 60 years. Around 240,000 women will be screened in 2009. A successful national screening programme has the potential to cut overall deaths from cervical cancer by 80%.

As well as finalising the transfer of breast cancer services to the eight centres, the NCCP will in 2009

  • establish rapid access diagnostic clinics for prostate and lung cancers in the eight centres.
  • progress the improvement of services for rectal, pancreatic and head and neck cancers and brain tumours.

The Minister wishes to give credit to the large number of voluntary agencies supporting the public health system in its prevention and awareness initiatives and in improving quality of life for cancer patients and their families.