Wednesday 4th July 2017: Today saw Minister for Health Simon Harris launch the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026. The number of cases of cancer is expected to increase over the period of the Strategy, and to almost double by 2040.
As a representative on the Cancer Patient Forum group for the National Cancer Strategy, the Marie Keating Foundation also welcomes the inclusion of the patient’s voice in this strategy and the commitment to establish a Cancer Patient Advocacy Committee which puts the patients at the centre of cancer services.
Cancer prevention is highlighted as a key cornerstone of the National Cancer Strategy. The proportion of cancer incidence attributable to lifestyle and environmental factors is estimated to be in the 30-40% range. Detecting and diagnosing cancer early has also been highlighted as a critical step in the fight against cancer. The Marie Keating Foundation welcomes the new strategy and its new focus which is very much aligned with the core mission of the Marie Keating Foundation whose nurses bring the early detection message to approximately 25,000 people each year.
In recognition of the fact that more and more patients are surviving cancer and that there are now more than 150,00 cancer survivors in Ireland, the Marie Keating Foundation also welcomes the specific focus within the Cancer Strategy on Survivorship and the need for improved services for cancer survivors. The Marie Keating Foundation supports cancer survivors through its Survive & Thrive programmes which are run nationwide, for men and women who have completed their cancer treatment. Over 450 cancer survivors attended courses and seminars in the past 18 months. Given its strong record in developing specific survivorship programmes to support cancer survivors throughout the country, the Marie Keating Foundation is very well placed to assist in the roll out of dedicated survivorship programmes as envisaged in the strategy, which ‘could have a profound impact on the quality of life of many who are living with the effects of a cancer diagnosis. Such programmes will address both the physical and psychosocial aspects of survivorship, and will include the provision of practical support in areas such as lifestyle and financial advice.’
While reference is made to the increased funding that will be needed to provide the cancer services recommended in the National Cancer Strategy, there is no direct reference to the provision of financial support to cancer patients. The Marie Keating Foundation’s Comfort Fund provides financial assistance to patients, and in recent years in particular, demands in this fund have increased significantly.