‘We know what needs to be done,now let's do it' - Irish Cancer Society responds to National Cancer Survivorship Needs Assessment
Speaking at the launch of the National Cancer Survivorship Needs Assessment, Averil Power, Chief Executive of the Irish Cancer Society, welcomed its recommendations and called for the Government to quickly put them into action. She said:
“Until now, the focus of Ireland’s cancer services has been on increasing the survival rate. This has delivered major improvements in the detection and treatment of cancer and ensured that 6 out of 10 people now survive a cancer diagnosis. While this is incredible progress, the long-term needs of cancer survivors have been overlooked.
“Surviving cancer can bring with it real challenges. While there is often an expectation people will return to ‘normal life’ after their treatment has stopped, the reality is often quite different. While many people return to good health, others experience ongoing issues for years afterwards.
“Short- and long-term effects of cancer treatment can affect every aspect of daily life. Physical issues include incontinence, bowel problems, sexual dysfunction, weight changes, sleep disturbance and fatigue. Emotional and psychological effects include shock, distress and fear of recurrence, low self-esteem and depression. Social and intimacy issues include lack of support, fear of burdening family and friends, loss of identity and altered relationships. And financial issues include increased stress due to financial difficulties, lack of or reduced household income, and an increase in costs to help manage side effects of treatment.
“To date, State support for cancer survivors has been patchy and inconsistent. For many years, the Irish Cancer Society has highlighted this gap and called for action. The National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026 recognised the need for improvements in this area and recommended a Cancer Survivorship Needs Assessment be undertaken to ascertain the most suitable model of survivorship healthcare. Today, assessments of the needs of survivors of childhood and adult cancers have been published, together with a review of current services in Ireland and international approaches to survivorship care. From these reports, we know what needs to change for cancer survivors in Ireland. We know what needs to be done, now let's do it.
“The implementation of today’s recommendations requires a commitment by Government to provide resources and funding. We have almost 200,000 cancer survivors in Ireland, and that number is set to rise. Our Government needs to prioritise not just their survival, but what it really means to survive – a quality of life they can enjoy, rather than endure.
“While working to deliver better State supports, the Irish Cancer Society is also committed to doing more to help survivors through our own services. We currently provide assistance through our Freephone Nurseline, Daffodil Centres, counselling service, Living Life group and educational events. The Needs Assessments published today will help us enhance these services and develop new ones to support survivors and their families”, she concluded.
Conference for Cancer Survivors
Living Well With and Beyond Cancer is our annual national conference and educational event for cancer patients and survivors, those who care for them, health care professionals, and support service staff.
This conference aims to provide information and support to enable people to live well after a cancer diagnosis.