Senior Cancer Oncologists and collaborators with Cork Cancer Research Centre, Prof Seamus O’Reilly and Dr Derek Power, were responding to the NCR report which they believe highlights challenges for the Irish healthcare service in the education, identification and management of patients particularly in areas of deprivation.
The report highlights strong patterns of cancer inequality by deprivation, age and, to a lesser extent, rural/urban status concluding that these factors influence the incidences of cancer, the treatment and survival of cancer patients in Ireland.
Commenting on the report, Prof Seamus O’Reilly, consultant medical oncologist at the Cork Mercy, South Infirmary Victoria University and Cork University Hospitals states “the figures highlight known and established factors related to cancer survival and inequality’s - the surprising feature is the magnitude of the impact observed. The report should serve as a frame work for addressing these issues in the provision of cancer services in Ireland”
The report focuses on the patients diagnosed with cancer during the years 2008-2012 and focus on all cancer and also the nine major cancer types: colorectal, stomach, lung, female breast, cervical and prostate cancers, melanoma of skin, lymphoma and leukaemia.
Consultant medical oncologist at The Mercy and Cork University Hospitals Dr Derek Power believes the report highlights key factors for healthcare in Ireland, “Education and prevention are the most important aspects of cancer care. Patients in more socioeconomically deprived areas, with less time spent in education, tend to present to their Doctor with health concerns later than less deprived areas. As a result of the late referral, their cancers may be more advanced and, therefore the patient may not be in a position to receive the full regime of cancer treatment including surgery.
Dr Power continued, “Stomach, lung and cervical cancer rates are much higher in deprived areas. These cancers are largely lifestyle related and this may have big implications for healthcare services and public awareness campaigns, e.g. smoking prevention and cervical cancer vaccination”