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Minister for Health publishes the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026 Implementation Report 2021

The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD today published the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026 Implementation Report 2021. The Report sets out the progress achieved on the implementation of the Strategy’s recommendations for the improvement of cancer services and the delivery of better outcomes for patients in 2021.


Minister Donnelly welcomed the publication of the report, saying: “The continued implementation of the National Cancer Strategy is hugely important in ensuring that cancer patients in Ireland receive care at the highest standard. 


“Our approach in Ireland to cancer has shown a dedication to the transformation of our cancer services, with three successive cancer strategies in 1996, 2006 and 2017. A recent study by the Lancet has shown that cancer survival rates in Ireland for lung, pancreas, rectal, and oesophageal cancers have improved in recent years. This study highlighted the importance of continued evaluation of national policies and the link to improved survival rates for patients.

“In 2021, I secured €20m new development funding for cancer services. This funding was used to drive improvements in cancer services and was coupled with €12m Covid-19 funding to help continue to provide critical services for patients during the pandemic. 


“Additionally, in 2021, we commenced construction on a €56m radiation oncology centre in Galway. We also continued work with Radiology programmes to develop direct access for GPs to radiology diagnostics for patients nationally.” 


Prof. Risteárd Ó Laoide, National Director of the HSE’s National Cancer Control Programme, said: “The main goals of the Strategy are to reduce the cancer burden, provide optimal care, maximise patient involvement and quality of life, and enable and assure change, and there has been significant progress in each of these areas since 2017.


“In 2021, new methods of delivery for treatments were made available and expanded on, including the introduction of Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR) and the repatriation of adult CAR-T cell therapy service to St. James’s Hospital, meaning patients can now receive this treatment in Ireland and remain closer to their home, families, and support networks. 


"In 2021 we also expanded the work of the Irish Cancer Prevention Network, appointed acute oncology nurses in the 26 hospitals that provide systemic anti-cancer therapy (SACT), appointed the first dedicated oncologist for adolescent and young adult cancer, continued the implementation of the psycho-oncology model of care and expanded programmes aimed at improving the quality of life of people living with and after cancer.”



Note to editors


The Implementation Report 2021 can be found at: here

The Report sets out the progress achieved on the improvement of cancer services and the delivery of better outcomes for patients, as set out in the 52 recommendations of the Strategy. The report measures the achievement of these recommendations against 23 key performance indicators, which focus on reducing preventable cancer, promoting early detection and driving improvements in treatment and after-care for cancer patients.


The full text of the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026 is available on the Department website at:


Implementation of the National Cancer Strategy is a Programme for Government commitment and is part of the implementation of Sláintecare.

Key developments in 2021 included:

  • Provisions prohibiting alcohol advertising on a sports area during a sporting event or at events aimed at children introduced;
  • Launch of updated GP guidelines for referrals to symptomatic breast disease clinics, to increase the appropriateness of referrals.
  • Increased patient attendances at Rapid Access Clinics (RACs) and adherence to national KPIs. This includes strong recovery from the impact of Covid-19, with new RAC attendances in 2021 at 102% of 2019 levels.
  • Further centralisation of cancer surgery in 2021, with a particular focus on penile cancer;
  • Repatriation of adult CAR-T cell therapy service to St. James’s Hospital;
  • Continued roll-out of the National Cancer Information System to 5 additional sites;
  • Significant expansion of Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR), with a national programme for this type of targeted radiotherapy being rolled out;
  • Construction of a new €56m radiation oncology facility underway at UHG for completion in 2022, with first patients to be seen in 2023;
  • Delivery of survivorship programmes including ‘Cancer Thriving and Surviving’ and ‘Life and Cancer – Enhancing Survivorship (LACES)’;
  • Implementation of the Psycho-Oncology Model of Care; and
  • The development of Best Practice Guidance for Community Cancer Support Centres, and an Alliance, recognising the important role cancer support centres play in the provision of community psychosocial support for cancer patients and their families.