Co Armagh Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Campaigns Ambassador, Victoria Poole made a call on World Cancer Day (Monday) for politicians and the Department of Health to consider implementing a comprehensive cancer strategy in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK and Ireland without a current cancer strategy with the most recent cancer strategy dating back to 2008.
Victoria met with a number of MLAs from the Newry and Armagh constituency this week to highlight the urgent need for a comprehensive cancer strategy.
After losing her grandmother to pancreatic cancer in 2014 and her grandfather to prostate cancer in 2017 Victoria is now extremely passionate about campaigning to help bring in new policies and secure investment in cancer services in Northern Ireland to help others tragically losing the people they love too, like she and her family did.
Victoria has been campaigning with Cancer Research UK to secure commitment from the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly to develop a comprehensive cancer strategy that outlines plans for the long term, set ambitious goals and identifies sufficient resources to ensure improved patient outcomes across Northern Ireland.
More than 25 people are diagnosed with cancer here each day, making it Northern Ireland’s biggest killer – that’s more than 9,250 per year with rates projected to rise to over 14,000 by 2035.
The positive news is that more people are beating the disease than ever before and cancer survival rates in the UK have doubled in the last forty years and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress.
Victoria commented on the need for a comprehensive cancer strategy in Northern Ireland: “Cancer survival rates in Northern Ireland in some cases are still lagging behind the best in Europe and too many cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they are harder to treat successfully.
CRUK scientists are working hard to beat cancer sooner. But we need government to play its part too.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK and Ireland without a current cancer strategy; ours dates from 2008 and is very much out of date having last been updated 10 years ago.
I welcome the Department of Health in Northern Ireland’s announcement acknowledging that the Department will revisit the Minister’s commitment to consider the need for a new regional cancer strategy for Northern Ireland.
In order to improve patient outcomes it is vital that the Northern Ireland government approves and develops a comprehensive cancer strategy so we can focus resources where they’re most needed. Approval of a cancer strategy is vital.”
DUP MLA William Irwin the work Victoria is carrying out for Cancer Research UK after meeting her this week.
“It was great to meet again with Victoria and hear of the many important issues she is involved in with her work with Cancer Research UK,” he explained.
“It is important that Northern Ireland has the capacity and resources to help detect and treat cancer sooner and give every person the best possible chance of recovery.
“I wish Victoria well as she continues her sterling work in lobbying and raising awareness amongst the public, politicians and decision makers with regards to cancer services, provision and policies.”
For more information about Cancer Research UK visit https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/