Call For Equality Of Access To Cancer Care

The chief executive of the National Cancer Screening Service has said there needs to be increased equality of access to cancer treatment services across the country.

Tony O’Brien was commenting following the publication of new figures which show cancer treatment offered to patients varies across regions.

Mr O’Brien said the figures relate to a period before the national screening programme began.

And he said that by the end of the year, the BreastCheck and Cervical Screening Programmes should be available on a national basis.

This, he said, should address many of the concerns of the Irish Cancer Society, and patients.

Mr O’Brien said it was his understanding that the Health Service Executive was acting quickly to establish a national director of cancer control.

The report from the National Cancer Registry spans the years 1994 to 2001 and focuses on four types of cancer.

An analysis of the most recent data shows that there was an overall improvement in survival rates for breast, bowel and prostate cancers during the period.

But it shows no significant improvement for those diagnosed with lung cancer.

According to the report, patients who had bowel, breast or prostate cancer had a greater chance of survival if they lived in the eastern part of the country.

The study also shows that there was a substantial variation in what treatment method was used, depending on where patients lived.

Director of the National Cancer Registry of Ireland Dr Harry Comber says there is a need for more standardised treatment across the country.