HSE National Cancer Control Programme urging people to act early on potential signs of cancer

HSE Press Release: Thursday 14th October 2021

New research shows people in North Dublin areas would wait longer to contact their GP if they have concerns about possible signs or symptoms of lung cancer

The HSE National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) is today, (Thursday, 14th October 2021), urging people to act early on potential signs of cancer, as research shows that some people (in parts of North Dublin, specifically Dublin 7, 9 and 11 areas) would wait longer to contact their GP regarding concerns. 

One in two people in Ireland will develop cancer at some point in their lives. Survival rates are significantly improved when cancer is diagnosed at an early stage. 

Dr Heather Burns, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, HSE NCCP said, ‘’Diagnosing cancer early, before it has grown or spread to other parts of the body, increases your chances of curative treatment and is one of the most important ways to increase survival. Late diagnosis, when cancer has grown and spread, limits your treatment options and reduces your chances of survival. If you have any signs or symptoms that could be cancer, such a new cough lasting for more than 3 weeks, coughing up blood or unexplained weight loss, get it checked by your GP without delay.’’

Dr Una Kennedy is a GP Advisor to the HSE NCCP and GP based in Glasnevin.  Dr Kennedy added, ‘’The NCCP conducted a series of focus groups to gain further insights into areas with high incidence of lung cancer, including Dublin City North. A common finding among participants was a fatalistic attitude towards lung cancer, with some older participants believing they were beyond help. We are urging members of the public to know the signs of cancer and call your GP today if you notice any changes or something different for you.’’

Lung cancer is Ireland’s leading cause of cancer death. However, early diagnosis is associated with better survival – 8 out of 10 (80.6%) patients diagnosed with early stage lung cancer survive for at least one year after diagnosis, compared to just 1 in 5 (20.6%) of those diagnosed with late stage disease. National Cancer Registry Ireland (NCRI) data illustrate that rates of lung cancer in parts of Dublin, including North Dublin, are higher than the national average.

 In 2019, the NCCP conducted a National Lung Cancer Awareness Survey*. A total of 1,250 interviews were conducted nationally, of which 251 were conducted face to face in Dublin 7, 9 and 11 - areas with relatively high incidence of lung cancer compared to the national average. The report found:

  • awareness of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer was similar nationally and in the Dublin areas (Dublin 7, 9 and 11)
  • people in the Dublin areas reported waiting longer to contact their GP if they had concerns about possible signs or symptoms of lung cancer (nationally, half (47%) of people surveyed would contact their GP as soon as they noticed symptoms, compared to just 1 in 10 (12%) people surveyed in the Dublin areas);
  • More people  in the Dublin areas would not want to know if they had cancer (1 in 3 (32%) people in the Dublin areas would not want to know if they had cancer, compared to 1 in 7 (14%) people  nationally);
  • More people in the Dublin areas believed that cancer is a death sentence (half (47%) of people in the Dublin areas, compared to 1 in 3 people (30%) nationally).

Catherine Heaney is the Co-ordinator of the Healthy Communities Project in the Dublin City Community Co-op. Catherine and her team worked with the NCCP to develop information videos to encourage people to know the signs of cancer and talk to their GP if they are concerned. Catherine said, “Our videos give quick information on the signs and symptoms of different types of cancer, including lung cancer. With the higher rates of lung cancer in North Dublin it is very important that people know the signs of cancer and phone their GP if they have any concerns, because an early diagnosis could save your life.”

Please see HSE NCCP for more information www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/5/cancer/ and follow #KnowTheSigns on social media.

ENDS

Last updated on: 14 / 10 / 2021