More than 82,000 sought cancer information last year

Irish Cancer Society says services need to engage better with men and older people

A report found 70% of people contacting the Irish Cancer Society information services are women. Photograph: Thinkstock

Cancer information services need to engage better with men, older people and people with disabilities, according to a new report. In total, over 82,000 people contacted the Irish Cancer Society last year and 70 per cent of those contacting for information are women, the report finds.

It says awareness levels of such services are high, but healthcare professionals are slow to recommend them to their patients and families. With cancer numbers set to increase to 40,000 cases a year by 2020, demand for expert information, advice and support is set to increase.

The society commissioned Prof Jonathan Drennan of the University of Southampton to evaluate its information service. He found about 40 per cent of those contacting the service had or were recovering from cancer.

A similar number were making contact on behalf of a family member or friend who had been diagnosed with the disease. People with a disability, such as the deaf and blind communities, may have difficulty accessing the service, according to Prof Drennan.


Donal Buggy, head of services at the ICS, said: "We now have the evidence which will allow us to improve and develop our service to meet the challenges ahead, as well as addressing the recommendations in the report.

“We are committed to evolving and improving in areas such as how we engage with men, disadvantaged communities, older people and non-Irish nationals.”

It was also vital for the society to engage more readily with healthcare professionals, he said.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.