Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health

Cancer Screening and Care Services: Discussion

Professor Risteárd Ó Laoide:

From the national cancer control programme point of view, as Dr. Russell said, there was a significant fear in the community initially. We did a lot of work with the Irish College of General Practitioners to provide educational tools on Covid and cancer. To reduce fear in patients we developed two publicity videos that showed a cancer patient's journey to the hospital and a patient coming for diagnosis. As Dr. Russell said, we have a learned a lot since then.

We are certainly very conscious of the fact that we must get the message into the community that cancer services are as safe as they can be in the Covid-19 environment, that they are open and that anybody with symptoms needs to come forward, because the services are available for them.

Talking to young people about cancer prevention is also critical. We work with the Irish Cancer Society, the Marie Keating Foundation, a number of voluntary bodies and cancer community centres to ensure we get appropriate messaging out on the early symptoms of cancer, awareness of cancer and advice on healthy living. We also work with Healthy Ireland, a cross-government body, on developing these messages. We are particularly looking at lung cancer now, and messages have been going out through the media in November in that regard. There will be a focus on this early in the new year.