Serious concern over drop in cancer detections: Irish Cancer Society

Particular concern at drop in detections of screened cancers following service pauses

While today’s report from the National Cancer Registry Ireland (NCRI) brings welcome good news on increasing survival rates, serious concern remains over the number of cancers not detected due to the pandemic, says the Irish Cancer Society.

CEO Averil Power said: “We are heartened to see that the number of cancer survivors in Ireland has officially passed 200,000 for the first time, and this is testament to the huge effort put into improving cancer care and treatment over recent decades.

“However, it is of real concern that some 2,500 cancers expected to be detected in 2020 were not, due to disruption caused by the pandemic.

“Although not surprising, it is concerning to see such a drop in detected versus expected cases for screened cancers including colorectal (18% less than expected), cervical (31% less than expected) and breast (23% less than expected) cancers.

“The NCRI figures published this morning do not include cancers that may not have been detected during health service disruption during 2021.

“Delayed diagnoses cost lives. Continued focus and resourcing is needed to deliver sufficient diagnostic and treatment capacity to clear the Covid backlog and ensure all cancers are being picked up at an early stage when they are easier to treat. Funding services and recruiting a full cancer workforce is critical to ensuring survival rates don’t go backwards.

“The fact we are only now seeing official data from the first year of the pandemic in 2020 also highlights a major gap in our health services. Proper planning, and indeed effective crisis management, requires timely and up-to-date information. Ireland is years behind other countries on that front and it is something that must be addressed as a priority.”


Averil Power- Irish Cancer Society CEO

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