Press Release

Minister for Health marks World Cancer Day

Ireland’s survival rates for cancer patients have improved significantly – latest figures published by The Lancet

Public Health Alcohol Bill to return to the Oireachtas this week

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris has stressed the importance of taking steps, as a society, to prevent cancer. The Minister was marking World Cancer Day, which takes place every year on the 4th of February.

Minister Harris said “Ireland is making significant strides in cancer control. The latest figures published by The Lancet confirm we are moving up the global rankings and cancer survival rates here have improved significantly. Five-year survival rates for cancer have improved from 44.2% (1994-1998) to 61.1% (2010-2014).

“The National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026 aims to ensure that survival rates in Ireland continue to improve and that, over the lifetime of this Strategy, Irish survival rates will reach the top quartile in Europe. In achieving this we must also ensure that our services meet the needs of those living with and beyond cancer, from diagnosis and treatment to psycho-social support post-treatment. I am delighted to see a focus on improving the quality of life for cancer survivors through World Cancer Day”

The Minister has also announced that the Public Health Alcohol Bill is to return to the Oireachtas this week.

Minister Harris said “The campaign theme for World Cancer Day is “We can. I can” and highlights the fact that we can all play our part in reducing the burden of cancer. The day has a particular focus on prevention and survivorship, which is reflected in our own National Cancer Strategy, which was published last year. We can all take small steps to reduce our risk of developing cancer, like the simple changes that the Healthy Ireland campaign is encouraging us all to make. Eating more fruit and veg, keeping active, watching our alcohol intake, keeping a healthy weight, and of course, quitting smoking, are all, in fact, cancer prevention in action.

“Reducing alcohol intake is an important step in reducing the burden cancer. During the coming week I will bring the Public Alcohol Bill into the Dáil. This is a landmark piece of public health legislation, which will make a real difference when it comes to reducing the harm caused by alcohol, and I would appeal to all parties to support it.”


Notes to the Editor

  • Approximately 20,000 people are diagnosed with invasive cancer in Ireland every year.
  • Overall cancer mortality rates decreased between 1994-2015 (1.5% annual decline in males and 1% decline in females). Cancer is the second most common cause of death in Ireland (after heart disease), with an average of 8,770 deaths annually.
  • While cancer rates (incidence per 100,000) have fallen or stabilised in recent times (-2% annually for males, -0.1% for females) the actual number of cancers diagnosed has continued to rise annually due to an increasing and an aging population.
  • The WHO estimate that 30% to 40% of cancers are preventable.
  • The National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026, launched in July of last year, focuses on reducing the cancer burden, providing optimal care, increasing patient involvement and quality of life, and enabling and assuring change.
  • Healthy Ireland – A framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013-2025 sets out the overarching context in which a focus on cancer prevention will be driven.
  • Healthy Ireland takes a whole-of-Government and whole-of-society approach to improving health and wellbeing, with a focus on prevention, reducing health inequalities and keeping people healthier for longer.
  • The goals of Healthy Ireland are to increase the proportion of people who are healthy at all stages of life, to reduce health inequalities, to protect the public from threats to health and wellbeing and to create an environment where every individual and sector of society can play their part in achieving a healthy Ireland.
  • Tobacco Free Ireland, the national tobacco control strategy, has the key goal of making Ireland tobacco-free by 2025 (defined as a prevalence rate of less than 5%). Two key themes underpinning Tobacco Free Ireland are the protection of children and the denormalisation of smoking.