May 27, 2019

Skin cancer prevention plan a welcome step – now it must be resourced

The Irish Cancer Society has today welcomed the launch of the first skin cancer prevention plan for Ireland, and called on the Government to follow through on this ambition by ensuring the plan is adequately funded and resourced.

Kevin O’Hagan, Cancer Prevention Manager at the Irish Cancer Society, said: “Between 2005 and 2015 there was a 70% increase in the incidence of skin cancer (melanoma and non-melanoma) in Ireland with 11,785 cases diagnosed in 2015. If we don’t all take action to look after our skin, the number of skin cancers in Ireland is projected to double by 2045.

“The National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026 understood the need for a co-ordinated approach to tackling this major health issue, and the launch of this plan today sees a key recommendation of the Strategy being achieved. But how effective the plan will be at preventing skin cancer and saving lives will depend on how well it is resourced.

“We all need to take skin cancer seriously. The Irish Cancer Society has long advocated for a national skin cancer prevention plan. We are now calling on the Government to ensure that funding and resources are made available to ensure it is fully implemented.

“Ensuring the ambitions of the plan are achieved will require buy-in not just from the Department of Health, but a cross-departmental, whole-of-Government commitment. Ongoing cooperation with organisations like the Irish Cancer Society is crucial to ensure the most at-risk groups – including children and outdoor workers – know the risks of UV exposure and take action to protect their skin health.

“We are also pleased to see the plan acknowledge the huge risks associated with sunbed use. The plan’s commitment to examining the feasibility of eliminating sunbed use is a welcome step, and we look forward to working closely with the Government in whatever way we can to see this important work through.”

Responding to findings from the NCCP’s skin cancer prevention survey, Mr O’Hagan added: “The Irish Cancer Society is concerned by survey findings which show that one in two of us have been sunburned in the past year. Getting painful sunburn, just once every 2 years, can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer. That’s why seeking shade, covering up and applying plenty of sunscreen is so important.

“If anyone has any concerns about their skin health, we encourage them to contact the Irish Cancer Society’s Cancer Nurseline on Freephone 1800 200 700, or visit where they can find information on the causes, signs and symptoms of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer.”