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Women less likely to survive breast cancer in public system, Tóibín says. 

Peadar Tóibín TD has said that an economic divide exists in breast cancer survival rates for women in Ireland. 

The Aontú leader said that information released to him from the Department of Health showed a difference in the 5-year survival rate for breast cancer “of a whopping 12% depending on whether you were diagnosed or treated in a public hospital or in a private hospital”.

Deputy Tóibín said: “During the first lockdown last year I was diagnosed with cancer, I’m back to myself now thank God. Like many others my diagnosis was delayed due to Covid-19 as I did not visit the Doctors until after the first wave receded. I was lucky in that my brother who is a professor in Cell Biology and when restrictions were lifted he visited me, noticed the spot and urged me to get checked out immediately. This could well have saved my life”.

Deputy Tóibín continued: “Breast cancer awareness month is an integral part of our war on cancer. I have a message for every man and woman in the country today – if you notice a lump, a strange spot or a mole that has changed, do not waste time –  get checked out IMMEDIATELY. Timely diagnosis and treatment seriously improves survival chances. We need to look at survival rates.”

“Last year’s annual report from the National Cancer Registry, based on the most recent statistics available, found that while Ireland’s five year survival rate for breast cancer is 82%, it is poor by European standards. If you’re diagnosed with breast cancer in Sweden you are 7% more likely to survive for five years than you are if you’re diagnosed in Ireland. In Britain you are 5% more likely to survive five years. It’s not just a geographical or international disadvantage. Shockingly there is also an economic divide in our own country.,” he said.

And he revealed: “In the last week the Minister for Health has disclosed to me following a parliamentary question that there is a differential in the 5-year survival rate for breast cancer of a whopping 12% depending on whether you were diagnosed or treated in a public hospital or in a private hospital. This is a national scandal!”

“Women diagnosed with breast cancer in a designated cancer centre have an 85% chance of surviving the first five years, those diagnosed in what is termed an ‘other public hospital’ have an 81% chance of surviving the first five years while those diagnosed in a private hospital have a 93% survival chance. These statistics were gathered in 2019. These statistics need to change. In certain hospitals when a woman is going for a biopsy they reassure her, before diagnosis, by scheduling a chemotherapy session for the following day. So she has an appointment to hear the results of the biopsy and then she also has an appointment for chemotherapy the following day ‘just in case’, before she’s even been diagnosed. It gives the impression that the health service is on the ball and that everything is super-efficient”.

“I spoke to a woman in that situation, and what actually happened is she got bad news, and then she presented for the appointment the next day to find that it was a consultation and no treatment was administered – she was then placed on a SIX WEEK waiting list for chemo, and when she was finally called for chemo after five weeks she was told that the reason they were able to facilitate her sooner was because someone else on the waiting list had died. We need to seriously reduce waiting lists for chemotherapy in this State”, concluded Tóibín.

 

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