January 21, 2013

Irish Cancer Society wants to close the cancer gap which sees double death rates in poor communities

Irish Cancer Society Launches new Strategy Towards a Future Without Cancer on its 50th anniversary

Monday 21st January 2013: The Irish Cancer Society has said that it wants to see the worryingly high rate of cancer incidence and death in poorer communities across Ireland tackled as a matter of urgency.

Launching its latest five-year Strategy entitled “Towards a Future Without Cancer” which coincides with the Society’s 50th anniversary, its new Chairman, Professor John Kennedy, said that cancer-related deaths in some socially disadvantaged areas in Ireland are double those of more affluent areas, and that the Society wants to see this gap closed.

The Strategy Statement sees the Society setting out four ambitious goals to drive its work around cancer for the next five years. Among these goals are to highlight how people can avoid cancer as well as developing specific initiatives designed to support communities where cancer risk is higher.

“A lot more is now known about how a person can avoid cancer, but we need to get this information across better. As a nation we are smoking and drinking too much, are overweight and not taking enough exercise. Changing our habits can cut our cancer rate over time and we will be showing how”, he said.

Professor Kennedy said that cancer death rates are far higher among poorer communities and that theIrish Cancer Society is determined to work closely with these marginalised communities to turn this situation around.

“Despite the strides made in cancer diagnosis and treatment in the last few decades, Ireland has become a very unequal society when it comes to health problems, particularly cancer and access to healthcare. There is a worrying divide emerging and this is a challenge that faces all of us – the policy makers, healthcare providers and the Irish Cancer Society. We must work now to begin to close this gap.

“To do this, the Society is going to extend its reach into those communities with high cancer incidence and poorer survival rates. We are going to work with individuals and organisations from the ground up to find new ways of empowering people to reduce their risk of cancer. We want to work with communities so that they can take ownership and control of their own health futures.”

Professor Kennedy said “Despite all we know about what causes cancer and how to prevent it, cancer cases are expected to rise to 42,000 annually by 2020. Great strides have been made in cancer care and service delivery in recent years in this country. It’s important that we protect the achievements to date and continue to build on them.”

Founded in 1963, the Irish Cancer Society has grown into the National Cancer Charity working for and on behalf of everyone affected by cancer in Ireland. With an annual income of over €20 million, 95% of which comes directly from the fundraising efforts of its thousands of supporters across the country, the Society’s mission and long term vision is to work towards a future without cancer.

Follow all the launch activity and let us know your thoughts on Twitter at the hashtag #IrishCancerSoc50.

You can download the Irish Cancer Society's Strategy Statement 2013-2017 here (pdf, 812KB).