January 29, 2019

Cancer centre patients more likely to survive certain cancers - Irish Cancer Society says further centralisation of cancer services would save lives

More lives are being saved thanks to the creation of designated cancer centres, the Irish Cancer Society said today. It was responding to a new report showing patient survival rates are significantly higher in designated centres compared to other public hospitals and over twice as high for lung, oesophageal and pancreatic cancers.

Averil Power, Chief Executive of the Irish Cancer Society said: “Centralisation means cancer treatment, in particular surgery, is carried out by specialists in a smaller number of centres focused on specific cancers. Being treated by clinical teams with more experience and expertise in their particular cancer significantly increases a patient’s chances of survival.

“In fact this report shows survival rates at designated centres are over twice as high for patients with lung, oesophageal and pancreatic cancers, compared with other public hospitals.

“The centralisation process, started in 2007, is clearly saving lives. However, it is far from complete. There are still many people with rarer tumours and blood cancers that don’t have a designated centre for their treatment needs. Some patients referred to rapid access clinics are also facing unacceptable delays in accessing life-saving services. These issues must be addressed urgently.

“Many people who’ve had cancer in the past decade wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for the centralisation of cancer services. The Government of the day, particularly Minister for Health, Mary Harney, demonstrated real political courage in commencing the centralisation of services. The current Government must ensure the process is completed so more people have access to specialised care. Patients’ lives depend on it.

“It must also deliver on the commitment in the National Cancer Strategy to develop at least one comprehensive cancer centre. This would deliver extra capacity to deal with the increased incidence and complexity of cancer, while also enabling research-driven improvements in cancer prevention and care”, she concluded.