herald

Thursday 23 February 2017

Charity launches 'hard-hitting' ads as one in two face cancer diagnosis

Cancer survivor Cormac Clancy, lecturer Dr Antoinette Perry, Grainne O’Rourke of the ICS, and survivors DJ Louise McSharry and rugby player Tony Ward at the campaign launch. Photo: Andres Poveda/Andres Poveda Photography Ltd
Cancer survivor Cormac Clancy, lecturer Dr Antoinette Perry, Grainne O’Rourke of the ICS, and survivors DJ Louise McSharry and rugby player Tony Ward at the campaign launch. Photo: Andres Poveda/Andres Poveda Photography Ltd

By 2020, one in every two people will receive a cancer diagnosis at some point in their life, a leading charity has warned.

The Irish Cancer Society (ICS) says that some 40,000 people are diagnosed with the disease each year in Ireland, with the figure on the rise.

The harrowing statistics come as the charity launched what has been deemed as a "shocking" television advertising campaign in an attempt to get viewers to sit up and take notice.

The "I Want to Get Cancer" campaign took two years to put together.

The aim is to get people to tackle cancer and its symptoms before it becomes too late and to get their symptoms checked at an early stage.

Head of communications at the ICS Grainne O'Rourke told the Herald that a large number of families who have been affected by cancer were consulted during the creation of the advertising campaign.

She said it was imperative that they put together a bold campaign that would get people talking.

"It's a hard-hitting, impactful campaign," she said.

"The rationale behind it is that getting a cancer diagnosis is hard-hitting and very impactful and we have been trying to figure out how we can get people to understand that the fear they feel around cancer, the misinformation, can all be removed and people can be empowered to get the right information about cancer."

Ms O'Rourke said that close to 150 people are diagnosed with the disease each day.

Lecturer in cancer biology at University College Dublin, Dr Antoinette Perry, said that the increase in diagnoses is down to a number of different factors.

"The survival rates in cancer are improving - we've seen survival rates almost double," Dr Perry said.

"So now we see six out of 10 people who are diagnosed with cancer are surviving more than five years after their diagnosis.

"It [the increase in diagnosis] is multifactorial.

Awareness

"We have an ageing population, so age is a factor for a number of different cancers.

"There's also improving awareness, so more people are being diagnosed.

"One example is prostate cancer, where we have seen a dramatic increase in incidents, but that is because we have better detection methods," she added.

One such survivor is former Irish rugby player Tony Ward.

Mr Ward has encouraged men in particular not to be afraid to get themselves checked.

"I don't know whether it's a cultural thing, a societal thing, but we are very slow to talk about things, we're very slow to act upon little signs that are there, and I was that person," he said.

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