Collage of women instrumental in the fight against cancer - researchers, nurses, fundraisers
March 8, 2017

More than 20,000 women in Ireland will be diagnosed with cancer this year – let’s support them this Daffodil Day

Irish Cancer Society highlights the women directly and indirectly fighting cancer on International Women’s Day

This year more than 20,000 women in Ireland will hear the words ‘you have cancer'. From the thousands of women living with the disease to the droves of female medical staff, research scientists and volunteers working to stop cancer in its tracks, the Irish Cancer Society is today – International Women’s Day – highlighting the role of women in the fight against cancer.

As Ireland’s largest cancer charity, the Irish Cancer Society is in contact each day with women affected by cancer.

There are more than 60,000 women living with and beyond cancer in Ireland today, each showing immense strength and courage in the face of their illness.

The Irish Cancer Society supports these women in our services through a predominantly female network of nurses and support staff, while female cancer researchers work tirelessly to find scientific breakthroughs that have the potential to save lives. Hundreds of women volunteer and fundraise for the Irish Cancer Society, donating time and money for a worthy cause.

To continue supporting women on the frontlines in the fight against cancer, the Irish Cancer Society is calling on the public to get involved in Daffodil Day, which takes place on Friday, 24th March.

Gráinne O’Rourke, Head of Communications with the national cancer charity, said: “The Irish Cancer Society is immensely proud of the role women play in the fight against cancer. Unfortunately more women in Ireland are being diagnosed with this disease that ever before – but that’s partly due to more spotting the signs and symptoms of cancer early and attending the free screenings available for breast, cervical and bowel cancers.

Mother and daughter in a garden“Our charity simply couldn’t function without the women who are at the forefront of the work we do. They provide vital information, care and support to cancer patients, while our cancer research scientists strive to learn more about cancer so that more women’s lives can be saved.

“However, there’s no doubt we can do more to support women with this disease. Each year more than 4,000 women in Ireland die from cancer. One in five eligible women is not turning up for their free cervical screening. And yet four in ten of all cancer cases can be prevented by simple lifestyle changes.

“With your support this Daffodil Day, the Irish Cancer Society can do more for Irish women. We can increase our efforts to get women informed about how they can prevent cancer and get detected early. We can hire more nurses to provide care and support through our services. And we can fund more researchers to find more ways in which women can prevent, detect and treat cancer and have better quality lives after their diagnosis.”

This year will be the Irish Cancer Society’s 30th Daffodil Day. Since 1988 more than €66 million has been raised, and this year the Society needs to raise at least €3 million to continue our important work.

Daffodil Day sees hundreds of passionate volunteers in every county in Ireland take to the streets. They play a huge part in ensuring our research, information and support services continue. As a result of their Trojan work:

  • A smiling Irish Cancer Society Night NurseThe Irish Cancer Society has 200 nurses – all female – working in its Night Nursing service. These Night Nurses provide night-time care for cancer patients who are at the end of their cancer journey, in their own home, during the last days of their life. In 2016 the service provided 8,008 nights of care to 1,934 patients around the country.
  • A team of 24 female nurses work across our 13 Daffodil Centres based in hospitals around the country, as well as on our national Cancer Nurseline 1800 200 700. Last year the services provided free advice and information to over 42,000 people.
  • In 2016 the Society funded more than 70 female cancer research personnel who work tirelessly in the race to find new ways to understand and beat cancer. Based across the country, many of these researchers work specifically on cancers which predominantly affect women. This includes those working in BREAST-PREDICT, a country-wide collaboration among experts in the area of breast cancer research, funded by the Irish Cancer Society.
  • Group of women fundraising at work for Daffodil DayThousands of women selflessly volunteer for the charity in areas from fundraising to playing an active role in our services. For example, our Volunteer Driver Service currently operates in 21 hospitals around the country and transports patients to and from their chemotherapy treatment. Nationally, over 1,000 volunteer drivers clocked up 1,119,170 km in 2016 as they facilitated 11,538 journeys for 1,162 patients.
  • The charity also has an additional 132 female employees, without whom our work could not be done. They ensure the public receives the most up-to-date cancer information, administer all our services so they run smoothly, run our 22 charity shops nationwide and encourage people to continue to raise money for our vital work.

This International Women’s Day the Irish Cancer Society wants to encourage women to be vigilant when it comes to reducing their risk of cancer.

The European Code Against Cancer highlights 12 ways women – and men – can actively lessen their chances of developing cancer. These include: eating healthily, watching our weight and alcohol intake, taking regular exercise and not smoking. Learn more about reducing your risk of cancer.

Naomi Fitzgibbon, Cancer Nurseline Manager, added: “International Women’s Day should act as a clarion call to all women to look after their health. Know your body, and take action if you notice anything unusual. The right lifestyle choices can spare a cancer diagnosis, and early detection of cancer can save lives. has all the information on prevention and detection, while our Cancer Nurseline 1800 200 700 is available Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm, to answer all of your cancer-related queries.”

Some facts about women’s cancers:

  • Female breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, after non-melanoma skin cancer. There are 2,900 new breast cancer cases every year, and the disease is most commonly diagnosed in women over 50.
  • Around 380 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year. It is rare in women under 40.
  • Approximately 300 women develop cervical cancer each year, and 90 die from the disease. It is most common in women in their 40s and 50s. The cancer is directly linked to Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The HPV vaccine, offered for free to first-year secondary school girls, eliminates the strains of the virus which cause 7 in 10 of all cases of the cancer.
  • Cancer of the womb (uterine cancer) accounts for around 450 cases per year. All women are at risk, except for women who have had a hysterectomy. It is more common in women over 50.
  • Vaginal cancer is diagnosed in 16 women on average every year. It is most common in women over 60 but the number of cases in younger women is rising.
  • Vulval cancer is diagnosed in around 40 women annually. It is most common in women over 50 but the number of cases in younger women is rising.

Other common cancers affecting women:

  • More women die from lung cancer than any other cancer, followed by breast and then bowel.
  • More than 1,000 women every year get bowel cancer.
  • Around 800 women every year get lung cancer. The figure has been steadily rising as more women are smoking.
  • Non-melanoma skin cancer affects 3,500 women every year, and around 400 women are diagnosed with a skin melanoma annually.