Press Release

Minister Harris welcomes European Week Against Cancer 25th – 31st May

Minister of Health, Simon Harris, has welcomed European Week Against Cancer which commences today, 25th May.

European Week Against Cancer highlights the steps that we can take as individuals to reduce our risk of cancer.  One of the main aims of the week is the promotion of the European Code Against Cancer. This is a clear 12 point guide on cancer prevention aimed at individuals.  It focuses on the importance of lifestyle issues such as smoking, alcohol, diet and exercise, as well as on precautions such as vaccinations and cancer screening. It is estimated that 30%-40% of cancer incidence is attributable to modifiable lifestyle and environmental factors.

Ireland actively participates in EU and international collaborations on cancer control, with the aim of preventing cancers and increasing cancer survival rates, through research and knowledge exchange. The aims of the European Code Against Cancer are echoed in the vision of the Healthy Ireland framework.

Cancer survival rates in Ireland have improved significantly in recent years with five year survival rates increasing from 57% for patients diagnosed between 2003-2007 to 61% for patients diagnosed between 2008-2012.

Minister Harris said “We have made significant steps forward in dealing with cancer in recent years.  A new National Cancer Strategy covering 2016-2025 is currently in development in my Department and I intend to publish it in the coming months.  Areas of focus in the strategy are likely to include prevention, early diagnosis, further improvements in treatment, rare cancers, survivorship and high quality patient-centred care.”

The Minister emphasised that, with a little effort, we can all increase our chances of living longer with a good quality of life.  “Relatively minor changes in our lifestyles, around smoking, drinking, exercise and diet can bring substantial benefits to our quality and enjoyment of life in later years” added the Minister.