Treating cancer with surgery is known as ‘surgical oncology’. Different cancers may respond to different types of treatment and the treatment plan for a patient will be specific to that individual. 

Surgical Oncology Programme

Timely access to high-quality multi-disciplinary diagnosis and treatment pathways is provided through an integrated national approach. In line with the second National Cancer Strategy, A Strategy for Cancer Control in Ireland (2006), there are eight designated cancer centres (plus a satellite centre in Letterkenny University Hospital), aligned with the hospital group structure, to provide adult surgery and multidisciplinary care for a variety of cancers. Paediatric services are provided in a ninth cancer centre in the Children’s Health Ireland Hospital Group.

Commencing in 2009, the NCCP established rapid access pathways & clinics for symptomatic breast, lung and prostate in each of the eight cancer centres. Patients with suspected lung, prostate and breast cancers are referred by their GP, using national referral guidelines, to be assessed at these clinics.

The NCCP is working to ensure that designated Cancer Centres for individual tumour types have appropriate case volumes, expertise and a concentration of multi-disciplinary specialist skills to ensure optimal outcomes for patients. The most common cancers e.g. breast are treated in all eight cancer centres while the less common cancers (e.g. brain, pancreas) are treated in one or two specialist centres. In general, patients are referred for care to the designated Cancer Centre for their tumour site which is closest to their home.

While surgery for a number of cancer specialities has been centralised, other components of cancer care will continue to be provided in a wider number of acute hospitals e.g. diagnostics (x-rays, CT scans, blood tests), chemotherapy and palliative care.

Last updated: 29/05/2023