Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Viewpoint: Cancer screening vital

Professor Patrick Johnston is Northern Ireland's leading cancer expert, a man whose opinion on the subject is, it is fair to say, universally respected.

Prof Johnston has presided over an exceptionally positive turnaround in cancer services in the province in the last five years or so.

Among his achievements are Belfast's new regional cancer centre, and an exciting tie-up with America's National Cancer Institute which has given the province access to pioneering research.

The efforts of a range of people, particularly Patrick Johnston, mean Northern Ireland is finally punching above its weight in the treatment and research of cancer.

So when Mr Johnston speaks, ministers and civil servants should listen.

Screening for bowel cancer will double or even treble survival figures, the professor says, and there is no excuse for any further delay in introducing screening in the province.

The Department of Health says planning for the introduction of screening is under way, but Mr Johnston is clearly concerned about the possibility of further delay.

Decisions on the introduction of bowel screening will be announced in the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review. We should all hope that funding is imminent and, just as importantly, that it is adequate to establish a truly first class service.

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