Know the Signs: HSE National Cancer Control Programme (NCPP) urges people to act early on cancer symptoms

 Early Diagnosis of Symptomatic Cancer Plan 2022-2025 launched today. 

·       One in two people in Ireland will develop cancer.·        

Today (Wednesday, 11th May 2022), the HSE National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) launched the first Early Diagnosis of Symptomatic Cancer Plan 2022-2025 which aims to provide a strategic, comprehensive approach to increasing the number of symptomatic cancers that are diagnosed early (stages I and II) in Ireland.

One in two people in Ireland will develop cancer at some point in their lives. If cancer is diagnosed early, it is easier to treat and there is a better chance of recovery. The HSE NCCP urges people to know the signs and act early on potential symptoms of cancer.

Dr Heather Burns, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, HSE NCCP said: ‘’If cancer is found early, before it has grown bigger or spread to other parts of the body, it’s easier to treat and there is a better chance of curative treatment and long term survival.  Stage at diagnosis is the most important determinant of survival for most major tumour types. Increasing the proportion of cancers diagnosed at an early stage (Stage I or II) is a key step in improving cancer survival in Ireland.”

The Early Diagnosis of Symptomatic Cancer Plan defines six high-level priority objectives (outlined below) which will guide the overarching approach to delivery of the Early Diagnosis of Cancer Function, Community Oncology Division, NCCP.

Objectives: Improving early diagnosis of symptomatic cancer in Ireland

  1. Strategic planning and collaboration – Provide a strategic approach to improving the early diagnosis of symptomatic cancer in Ireland.
  2. Empower people and communities to recognise and act on signs/symptoms of cancer.
  3. Support community healthcare professionals to recognise and refer people with signs/symptoms of cancer.
  4. Identify and address system factors that impact timeliness of diagnosis of symptomatic cancer.
  5. Identify knowledge gaps and undertake research to inform development of early diagnosis initiatives.
  6. Monitor and evaluate the implementation and impact of the NCCP Early Diagnosis Symptomatic Cancer Plan 2022 – 2025.

Dr Una Kennedy, who is a GP based in Glasnevin and also works as GP Advisor to the HSE NCCP, said: “We are urging members of the public to know the signs and symptoms of cancer and call your GP today if you notice any changes or something different for you.

“If you notice symptoms such a new cough lasting for more than 3 weeks, breathlessness more than is normal for you, a new or changing lump, unexplained weight loss or unexplained bleeding, get it checked by your GP without delay.’’

Cancer Facts

  • Cancer is Ireland’s leading cause of death, accounting for approximately one in three deaths.
  • For many cancers, stage at diagnosis is the most important determinant of survival.
  • Lung cancer is Ireland’s leading cause of cancer death, but survival is greatly influenced by stage at diagnosis – 7 out of 10 people diagnosed with early stage (stage I) lung cancer survive for at least one year after diagnosis, compared to just 1 in 6 people diagnosed with late stage (stage IV) disease.
  • Five year survival for colorectal, breast and ovarian cancer is high for early stage (stage I) disease (95%, 94% and 83% respectively), falling to just 10%, 19% and 15% respectively for late stage (stage IV) disease.

Please see HSE NCCP for more information www.hse.ie/cancerearlydetection

Last updated on: 11 / 05 / 2022