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Farmleigh to hold international conference on cancer

An international conference on cancer will be held in Farmleigh in Dublin.

Leading cancer experts from around the world are attending the event to promote greater cooperation in tackling the disease.

It comes as a new report found that cancer is the “single biggest killer” in Ireland, with more than 9,600 deaths a year.

The report from the European Cancer Organisation (ECO) and the Irish Cancer Society said the disease is responsible for 30% of deaths in the country each year.

The ECO said its data from its online repository, the European Cancer Pulse, “captures evidence of progress but also highlights areas that need scrutiny, particularly those around cancer inequalities”.

It said Ireland “needs to be more ambitious in preventing cancer”.

The report said while the country is “doing well on HPV vaccination, it is falling behind on its targets for tobacco and alcohol consumption”.

Irish Cancer Society CEO Averil Power said: “We know that people across the country do not have equal access to cancer care and services in Ireland.

“Inequality between public and private patients is growing, particularly in terms of access to new medicines.

“The lack of Government investment in Ireland’s current National Cancer Strategy means target waiting times for cancer tests are consistently being exceeded.”

Professor of Digital Health at Queens University Belfast and co-lead of the all-island Cancer Research Institute Mark Lawler said there is a “postcode lottery” in Ireland when it comes to cancer diagnosis treatment, which he described as “unacceptable”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Prof Lawler said there is a “10% difference between the haves and the have-nots”.

“We should be having a scenario where we’re catering for everybody in society equally and unfortunately we’re not and that’s really not acceptable and we need to do something about it,” he said.

“It shouldn’t be that where you live decides what treatment you get, whether you’re diagnosed early or not, so we really need to look at this much more closely.

“The data that we’ve presented is unequivocal, it’s now highlighting that we need solutions to this problem,” Prof Lawler said.

He said a consistent cancer policy will lead to better outcomes and that Ireland did have a consistent policy but only two of the last seven budgets have provided funding for cancer.

Prof Lawler added the country is in danger of moving away from that consistent policy to inconsistency, which will lead to poorer outcomes.

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