Charity Announces €1m Donation to Irish Government

In a telling sign of the woeful economic times, The Irish Cancer Society has announced plans to donate €1m to the Department of Health to help roll out a national bowel cancer screening programme that they fear would otherwise be overlooked. The proposed programme will be for all men and women aged 55 – 74 years living in Ireland.

“The decision by the Board of the Irish Cancer Society to offer funding towards the cost of the initial rollout of a screening programme is a significant new step for the Society. We would rather not have to make this offer, but on this occasion we believe that we have no choice. We believe that unless there is a clear driving force, it is easier for the Government, especially in the current climate not to do anything. We also hold the view that we have a duty of care to the people of Ireland to drive the rollout of this programme, which will be one of the most effective public health interventions in the history of the Irish healthcare system” said Bill McCabe, Chairman Irish Cancer Society.

“We are offering €1 million over a period of 2 years to get this screening programme up and running and our offer will be effective from December 2009, when Budget 2010 will be announced and when we expect State money for bowel cancer screening to be included in the Budget estimates. We will offer more after that depending on the success of a specific fundraising effort which is in the planning stages. However we will not part with any money until we are confident that the bowel cancer screening programme in Ireland will meet the highest possible standards” continued Mr McCabe

The latest data from the National Cancer Registry of Ireland shows that 2,174 new cases of bowel cancer were diagnosed in 2007. This is predicted to increase to approximately 3,300 new cases by 2020. Bowel cancer currently represents 9% of all invasive cancers. Furthermore 60% of people diagnosed with bowel cancer present at Stage III and IV, the more advanced stage of the disease, when the disease is more difficult to treat. Ireland also has the highest mortality rate for bowel cancer in Western Europe and the fourth highest rate among men worldwide. Over 900 people die from bowel cancer in this country every year.

Also speaking at the briefing, CEO John MCCormack said, “All evidence points to the urgent need for such a screening programme which will save 330 lives per year because the cancer will be detected at such a stage that it can be treated effectively. A screening programme will also prevent a further 320 people developing bowel cancer because it will pick up pre-cancerous tissue in the bowel which can also be treated. Basically we need to screen for this common cancer, detect it early, treat it well and give people the best chance of a long and healthy life. This is why we are prepared to forge new ground and take a lead role in ensuring the rollout of a national bowel cancer screening programme” 

Mr. McCabe also said that the Irish Cancer Society has been invited to participate in an expert group led by Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) which will explore ways of delivering this screening programme within existing resources if that is possible, and which is expected to report by September 2009.

“Our participation in this Group allows us to be assured that any planned programme will be to the highest possible standards in line with best international practice and will be able to deliver a dedicated screening programme as quickly as possible” concluded Mr Bill McCabe.

Bowel Cancer in Ireland

Why do we urgently need a bowel cancer screening programme?

  • A screening programme will save 330 lives every year.
  • A screening programme will prevent a further 320 people from developing bowel cancer every year.
  • With every year, the lives of 650 people will be dramatically improved with the implementation of a bowel cancer screening programme.

Find out more by visiting the the Irish Cancer Society website.