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New guidelines launched to support medical practitioners treat breast and prostate cancer

Author: Mary Ellen Breen
29 June 2015

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has launched two new National Clinical Effectiveness Guidelines to help medical practitioners with diagnosing, monitoring and treating breast cancer and prostate cancer.

They are the first clinical guidelines for cancer and aim to improve the quality, safety and cost-effectiveness of cancer care across Ireland. The guidelines look at the diagnosis, staging and treatment options for patients with breast or prostate cancer, and for those requiring palliative care the report recommends that “assessment of palliative care needs should be an ongoing process throughout the course of a patient’s cancer illness”.

The new guidelines were drafted by the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) and quality assured by the Department’s National Clinical Effectiveness Committee. This week Minister Varadkar gave them Ministerial endorsement as high quality guidelines to be implemented in full across the health service.

Minister Varadkar said, “Survival rates for cancer have improved significantly in recent years and most people who get cancer now survive it. However, our objective is to be in the top tier of developed countries for survival. The National Cancer Control Programme has played a key role in improving cancer care in Ireland. Nonetheless, cancer is still the second leading cause of death in Ireland and remains a major challenge. I recently set up a Cancer Strategy Steering Group to advise the Department on developing the next National Cancer Strategy, which will apply from 2016. This launch of the breast and prostate guidelines is further proof of the progress being made in cancer services.”

The guidelines are designed to further raise the quality of clinical care and prevent variations in practice. They are based on the best research evidence and on clinical expertise. Dr Jerome Coffey, Interim Director of the NCCP acknowledged the commitment and expertise of the multi-disciplinary cancer teams in developing the guidelines.

The National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC) was established as an essential component of the Patient Safety First initiative. It provides leadership for national clinical effectiveness through prioritisation and quality assurance of National Clinical Guidelines and audit. Eight NCEC National Clinical Guidelines have now been published and are available for use in the health service.

Minister Varadkar acknowledged the work of NCEC in advancing patient safety and quality, and the Irish clinical effectiveness agenda, under the chairmanship of Professor Hilary Humphreys and congratulated the National Cancer Control Programme on this important contribution to evidence-based cancer care.

The guidelines are available in full here.

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