Press Release

Minister Harney asks HIQA to identify way to deliver cost effective colorectal cancer screening programme

The Minister for Health and Children , Mary Harney TD, announced today (17 June 2009) that she has asked the Health Information and Quality Authority to identify innovative ways of introducing a national programme of colorectal cancer screening in Ireland. The introduction of this screening programme is now a priority.

Welcoming publication today of two related reports – the National Cancer Screening Service’s Expert Report on Colorectal Screening and the Health Technology Assessment carried out by the Health Information and Quality Authority, the Minister said: I want to introduce a national programme of colorectal cancer screening as soon as possible. Colorectal cancer kills over 900 people in Ireland every year. The expert reports confirm that a properly organised screening programme would have huge public health benefits and I want to find innovative ways of putting that in place.

In Ireland colorectal cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in men, after prostate cancer and the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in women, after breast cancer. The new cases of colorectal cancer in Ireland – around 2,000 per year – rank among the highest in Western Europe for both men and women, and the death rate is higher for men in Ireland than elsewhere in Europe.

The Minister has asked HIQA to report to her by the end of September. In the time limited study, HIQA will explore different ways of delivering a high quality colorectal screening programme within existing resources, based on the range of advice contained in the two expert reports.

The Minister said: I am pleased that HIQA has agreed to use its skills and expertise to set out how the Irish healthcare system can deliver this important programme within existing resources.

The Minister also welcomed the commitment of the Irish Cancer Society to play a very supportive role in the design of an appropriate, high-quality screening programme.