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Fitzgerald calls for budget commitment on cancer screening

Press Statement from Frances Fitzgerald MEP

Sunday 25th September 2022

Fitzgerald calls for budget commitment on cancer screening

New EU recommendation calls for wider screening for new forms of cancer and HPV testing for all women between 30 and 65

Dublin MEP Frances Fitzgerald has welcomed the European Commission’s new recommendation in relation to wider cancer screening in EU Member States and called for the Minister for Public Expenditure and the Minister for Health to provide funding for increased cancer screening in Budget 2023.

The European Commission this week published a new recommendation for member states as part of the EU’s “Beating Cancer Plan” which endorses increasing and widening the number of screenings in order to detect cancers at an earlier stage. The recommendation will offer a blue print for the national cancer strategies in each member state, including Ireland, however its implementation will require a financial commitment from the Irish Government in Budget 2023.

Frances Fitzgerald MEP said, “According to estimations, one in two EU citizens will develop cancer during their lifetime. We must continue to take cancer seriously and update our national strategies to ensure we are working off the most up-to-date research and best practice. It is imperative that the Irish Government takes this new EU research on board and ensures that money is provided in Budget 2023 to roll-out wider screening and to detect cancer earlier. In 2020, an estimated 2.7 million people in the EU were diagnosed with cancer.”

To facilitate more targeted and less invasive screening, the recommendation:

• extends the target group for breast cancer screening to include women between 45 and 74 years of age (as compared to the current age bracket of 50 to 69);

•recommends that Human Papillomavirus (HPV) testing should take place for women aged 30 to 65, every 5 years or more, to detect cervical cancer, taking account of HPV vaccination status;

•supports triage testing for colorectal cancer in people aged 50-74 through faecal immunochemical testing to determine potential follow-up via endoscopy/colonoscopy.

Building on the most recent evidence, the recommendation also extends organised screening to

•breast cancer testing for women between 45 and 74 years of age while considering specific diagnostic measures for women with particularly dense breasts;

•lung testing cancer for current heavy and ex-smokers aged 50-75;

•prostate cancer testing in men up to 70.

MEP Fitzgerald continued, “The funding allocated to the National Cancer Strategy in Budget 2022 needs to be retained and enhanced in Budget 2023 in order to ensure wider screening is in place. We must be guided by the latest science. This is the only way we will help to improve healthcare outcomes for those with cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and other forms of cancer.

“The recommendation also highlights the issue of equal access to screening and how this could be impacted by a person’s socio-economic status, disability, or the area in which they live. Furthermore, it is important to guarantee adequate and timely diagnostic procedures, treatments, psychological support, and after-care. I welcome the news that EU guidelines on lung, prostate, and gastric cancer screening and treatment will now be developed and regularly updated for the first time ever, along with the updating of the existing guidelines on breast, colorectal and cervical cancer.

“The Commission’s recommendation cannot be ignored. The Minister for Health must ensure funding for wider screening and testing is secured when Budget 2023 is announced on Tuesday.”




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