Skin Cancer Prevention Plan being launched today in Ireland being welcomed by Evelyn Cusack, Head of Forecasting in Met Eireann

First for Ireland

Louise McCarthy

Reporter:

Louise McCarthy

sunshine

The first skin cancer prevention plan for Ireland has been launched today. 

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and Minister of State for Health Promotion Catherine Byrne TD  today launched it, the plan is aimed at tackling the most common type of cancer in Ireland. Over 11,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year and the number of cases is projected to double by 2045. 

The plan focuses on the fact that most skin cancers could be prevented. It addresses awareness of skin cancer prevention and has identified the priority groups as children, outdoor workers, those who participate in outdoor leisure activities and sunbed users. 

Speaking as he launched the policy, Minister Harris said: “Skin cancer is something that we don’t always think of when we hear that someone has been diagnosed with cancer but in fact it is the most common type of cancer in Ireland today with over 11,000 cases diagnosed each year. 

Minister Harris said:“With half of all Irish adults getting sunburned last year we need a radical rethink on how we think about the sun and tanning. What people really need to know is that most skin cancers could be prevented and the behaviours that we can adopt to protect our skin and our children’s skin.” 

The plan was developed by the Department of Health in conjunction with the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) and key stakeholders including other Government Departments and national organisations representing priority groups, including the Irish Cancer Society, Marie Keating Foundation,  the Irish Skin Foundation and Breakthrough Cancer Research. 

Minister Harris added: “Prevention is a cornerstone of our National Cancer Strategy as it offers the most cost effective, long term approach for cancer control. 

He said: "The partnership approach of Healthy Ireland bringing all the key players together was critical to developing this plan for skin cancer and will be key to rolling out the plan to reverse the rising incidence of skin cancer and ultimately saving lives.” 

Research conducted for the plan showed that often people think it is a hot sun that causes skin cancer but in fact ultraviolet radiation UV is the main risk factor responsible for skin cancers. 

 Dr Triona McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health Medicine from the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) said: “Over 1,000 people in Ireland are diagnosed with melanoma each year and over 10,000 with non-melanoma skin cancer. These numbers are predicted to rise further but much can be done to reverse this trend.  This Skin Cancer Prevention Plan outlines the actions we can take to create an environment where protection of our skin from excess UV radiation is the norm.” 

Speaking at the launch, Evelyn Cusack, Head of Forecasting in Met Eireann said: “Met Eireann actively supports the new Skin Cancer Prevention Plan and look forward to working with all partners in its implementation. We publish a daily UV index from April to September. People should become familiar with the index. Even on cloudy summer days the UV index can be quite high. Peak burn times are between 11am and 3pm so it’s particularly important that people take extra precautions then.’