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Supporting early cancer detection report launch at Bord Bia Bloom

Urgent need to improve cancer outcomes by prioritising early detection in Ireland

  • Marie Keating Foundation urges Government to prioritise early cancer detection in new strategic report
  • 1 in 2 will get cancer at some point in our lives and cancer is now the leading cause of death in Ireland

Dublin, 31 May 2024 – “The Government urgently needs to prioritise early cancer detection so we don’t start falling behind in progress,” said Marie Keating Foundation CEO Liz Yeates at a breakfast briefing today on early cancer detection, at which the Foundation launched its Supporting Early Cancer Detection report.

At the ‘Early Detection Saves Lives’ briefing, the Marie Keating Foundation called for increased education around early cancer symptoms and the expansion of cancer screening programmes in Ireland. Lack of symptom awareness, long waiting lists, the impact of the pandemic, inequalities in access to treatment, an overcrowded health system and lack of screening programmes were cited at the breakfast briefing as contributory factors to why cancer patients in Ireland are not given the best chance of surviving cancer.

Speaking at the briefing was Marie Keating Foundation CEO, Liz Yeates; Dr Emily Harrold, Medical Oncology Consultant at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital; Dr Patrick Redmond, Associate Professor in General Practice at RCSI; Helen Forristal, Marie Keating Foundation Director of Nursing; and patient advocate and writer of Things Went T*ts Up! Dearbhaile O’Hare.

The Supporting Early Cancer Detection report outlines the Marie Keating Foundation’s actionable policy recommendations with regard to early detection of cancer from education around early cancer symptoms to funding the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026. In the report, the Foundation urges the Government to prioritise early cancer detection through several measures, including:

  • Commit to multi-annual funding of theNational Cancer Strategy
  • Improve awareness of early cancer symptoms
  • Provide funding to promote higher uptake of all existing screening programmes.
    • Lower the age limit for breast cancer screening to 45 years.
    • Expand the screening age for Bowel Cancer from 59 – 69 to 50 – 74.
    • Establish a lung cancer screening pilot programme targeting high-risk people.
  • Invest in improving access to cancer diagnostics.
  • Fund and Implement the NCCP Early Diagnosis of Symptomatic Cancer Plan 2022-2025.

Speaking to the launch of the report, Marie Keating Foundation CEO Liz Yeates said,

“Early diagnosis is essential to improving cancer survival rates. Ireland-specific data is lacking when it comes to early detection, but we also know from research in the UK that the health service could save millions in treatment costs and benefit many more patients if earlier diagnoses of cancer are made. Not only does early diagnosis of cancer offer increased chances of curative treatment, but it also leads to cost savings for health and social care systems so it is critical that we place renewed pressure on the Government to act on the policy recommendations outlined in our Supporting Early Cancer Detection report that will transform cancer outcomes for people across Ireland.”

Patient ambassador Helen Dunne is sharing her story as part of the launch of the Marie Keating Foundation Supporting Early Cancer Detection report. Helen Dunne was just 36 years old when she was diagnosed with stage two bowel cancer in 2023. Her hope is that through her experience she can help to increase awareness of cancer symptoms especially among younger people who are not yet eligible for screening services. At first, her initial symptoms were thought to be down to haemorrhoids.

“I experienced bleeding during my last pregnancy and after,” Helen said. “I was told I had haemorrhoids, but thankfully my GP thought further investigation would be beneficial. They found something during my colonoscopy and I was devastated to hear it was rectal cancer. My youngest daughter was only seven months old and I had just gone back to work after maternity leave. I responded very well to treatment and I was told in February that my biopsies were clear after surgery so I am very grateful. I want to get across to people that you are never too young to get cancer so please get checked if you have symptoms.”

Supporting the ‘Early Cancer Detection is Key’ campaign this year is Dr Emily Harrold, Consultant Oncologist consultant.

“Early detection and diagnosis of cancer, followed by effective treatment, improves survival and the chance of cure. Simple check-ups, visiting your GP and attending routine screenings are vital tools in ensuring we catch cancer at its earliest stages. Furthermore, educating people on the signs and symptoms of cancer empowers them to proactively take charge of their own health. By raising awareness and ensuring access to the necessary supports, we can catch cancer at its earliest stage, enhancing the chances of successful treatment and long-term survival.”

Also speaking at the ‘Early Detection Saves Lives’ breakfast briefing, Dr Patrick Redmond Associate Professor in General Practice at Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland said,

“Early cancer detection is vital for improving survival rates and patient outcomes. The report’s focus on awareness, screening, and timely diagnostics aligns with PRICAN’s vision of empowering communities through preventive healthcare. Together, we can significantly impact the fight against cancer and transform lives across Ireland”.

AstraZeneca are supporting the publication of the Marie Keating Foundation Supporting Early Cancer Detection report.



Supporting Early Cancer Detection Report



The breakfast briefing was held at the Garden View restaurant at Bord Bia Bloom 2024 in Phoenix Park. The Marie Keating Foundation show garden, ‘Early Cancer Detection is Key’, designed by award-winning landscape architect David Gallagher, is on show at Bloom this year from 30th May to 3rd June. This year the ‘Early Cancer Detection is Key’ show garden is sponsored by AstraZeneca.

An Taoiseach Simon Harris TD meets Liz Yeates, Chief Executive Marie Keating Foundation at the Early Cancer Detection is Key garden
Wednesday 29th May; Liz Yeates, CEO Marie Keating Foundation with AstraZeneca Country President Alex Wilkes pictured in The Marie Keating Foundation ‘Early Cancer Detection is Key’ garden at Bord Bia Bloom 2024. Picture credit: Damien Eagers NO REPRO FEE