According to the Irish Cancer Society, in 2020 – the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic – one in ten expected cancers went undiagnosed, equivalent to 2,600 people.
In a presentation to the Oireachtas health committee, Irish Cancer Society chief executive Averil Power said the figures “reflect just one year of the pandemic”.
“These are real people with loved ones, for whom a delayed cancer diagnosis is not a statistic, it’s a whole world collapsing,” she said, reports RTE.
Ms Power told members: “Patients are not being given the best chance of surviving cancer due to long wait times and overcrowding in the health system. The earlier cancer is caught, the easier it is to treat, and the greater the person’s chances are of surviving the disease. The five-year survival for breast cancer for example is 94% at stage one and only 19% at stage four,” reports RTE.
“There is also concern that others may be put off seeking medical assistance due to the chaos,” she added, reports RTE.
Ms Power said an electronic health record system “vital of that the data is captured and the relevant statics are available to everyone. This would help us make proper decisions and hold people to account,” reports RTE.
She said there also needs to be sheltered surgery time and theater time for cancer treatment.
“We can’t keep competing for beds with Covid, flu, road traffic accidents etc. There also needs to be protected time for research – so doctors have time on top of a heavy clinical load,” reports RTE.
Despite the challenges facing the system, you paid tribute to the health professionals working in the field of cancer care.
“They continue to offer compassion, kindness, professional knowledge, understanding and empathy to the thousands of patients who are currently using Ireland’s cancer services. They also deserve better than the conditions in which they are currently being made to work,” reports RTE.
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