Renewed Focus Needed on Cancer Prevention

On World Cancer Day, we think of cancer fighters and survivors and their families I am particularly thinking of the women at the centre of the CervicalCheck scandal, who have gone through cancer journeys that could have been completely preventable.

At the centre of the CervicalCheck scandal is a paternalistic and neglectful approach to women health where information was routinely withheld from women around the results of audits of their smear test results. Labour are calling for the full implementation of the recommendations of the comprehensive Scally report and for funding for this to be immediately ring-fenced.

Screening programmes need proper resourcing. Labour will extend BreastCheck to women aged 65-69 and bowel screening to 55-74 in order to enhance early detection, save lives and ensure cost-effective treatment. We will expand ovarian and uterine screening for early detection of cancer.

We also must make life easier for those who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis at the moment. Time and time again, I hear about how patients and families are being crippled with car parking charges during chemotherapy treatments – Labour will give a parking waiver to all patients attending hospital for continuous treatments like chemo.

Labour has been fully behind the campaign for a GP Visit or Medical card for patients with long-term illnesses such as certain types of cancer.

Other preventative measures the next Government could and should take as a step to avoiding certain types of cancer are:

  • implement a nationwide ban on cancer-causing smoky coal, as part of a wider strategy to improve air quality,
  • extend the availability and lower the cost of the HPV vaccine for women who missed out on the vaccine
  • Introduce a HPV vaccine catch up scheme for teenage boys who missed out the vaccine before it was introduced in schools last September