Minister for Health Simon Harris launched two new National Clinical Guidelines to help healthcare professionals with the diagnosis, staging and treatment of patients with oesophageal or oesophagogastric junction cancer and the diagnosis and staging of patients with ovarian cancer.
The guidelines were developed by multidisciplinary groups supported by the HSE’s National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) and quality assured by the Department of Health’s National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC). The ovarian guideline was co-chaired by Dr Josephine Barry and Dr Ciarán Ó Riain. The oesophageal and oesophagogastric junction cancer guideline was chaired by Professor John Reynolds.
Ireland has one of the highest rates of both ovarian and oesophageal cancer in Europe with rates of 16.1 and 7.9 per 100,000 respectively, with the incidence of both ovarian and oesophageal cancers projected to rise. The development and implementation of National Clinical Guidelines related to cancer care are underpinned by recommendation 37 in the National Cancer Strategy 2017 – 2026. The National Cancer Strategy places a focus on prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and quality of life.
Speaking at the launch today, Minister Harris said “We have seen good progress on our National Cancer Strategy, with clear evidence-based policy direction from my Department and strong implementation by the National Cancer Control Programme, and cancer survival rates in Ireland have improved significantly in recent years.
“The Cancer Strategy emphasised the potential to alter the landscape of cancer in Ireland by reducing mortality, and improving survival and quality of life, through enhanced early diagnosis. Rigorously developed National Clinical Guidelines like the ones we are launching today are a means of ensuring that our citizens receive the best possible care, no matter what their medical condition might be or where in the country they are being treated. Importantly for me, they are a means of empowering patients to be informed decision-makers about their own care.
“These new guidelines are a key part of our work in this area and they will now be implemented in full across the health service, helping to improve the quality and safety of treating the disease across Ireland. They are based on the best available evidence and have been informed by a full public consultation and reviewed by international experts. I want to acknowledge the work of the NCEC in advancing patient safety and quality, and the Irish clinical effectiveness agenda, under the chairmanship of Professor Karen Ryan, and also to congratulate the NCCP and all who worked to bring these guidelines to launch today.”
The Co-Chair of the Guideline Development Group Dr Josephine Barry, Consultant Radiologist, Cork University Hospital for Ovarian cancer commented “This document offers health professionals up to date guidelines for best practice in the diagnosis and staging of patients with suspected ovarian cancer and also focuses on genetic aspects of ovarian cancer.”
The other co-chair Dr Ciarán Ó Riain, Consultant Histopathologist, St James’s Hospital , Dublin added “Ovarian cancer may be the first indication of two of the most common inherited syndromes that predispose to development of a number of different cancer types. This guideline recommends offering appropriate subgroups of women testing for presence of a mutation in the BRCA gene. This provides an opportunity to engage in true shared decision making and offer patients an informed choice to manage their own health risks according to their wishes and values. It provides us with an opportunity to take a visionary approach to the health of women with ovarian cancer and their families.”