FOUR Dublin hospitals are set to benefit from a donation of more than €400,000 from the Irish Cancer Society to support bowel cancer screening.
The donation is a private bequest and will buy equipment that will develop screening services in St Vincent's, The Mater, Beaumont and St James's hospitals.
The donation will help increase the capacity of the hospitals to respond to the demand for colonoscopies arising from the BowelScreen programme.
BowelScreen is a Government-funded service delivered by the National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS), which began offering free bowel cancer screening to people aged 60 to 69 in 2012. In the longer term, it is planned to extend the programme to those aged 55 to 74.
"The Irish Cancer Society is delighted to be able to support the development of colorectal services in Dublin with these donations," said John McCormack, CEO of the Irish Cancer Society.
"The funding is part of a €1m donation which we have made available to support the expansion of colorectal services in hospitals around Ireland.
"We committed to making this contribution towards the rollout of the bowel cancer screening programme in 2009, as an expression of our commitment to ensuring that this vital service was rolled out at a time when Government was cutting spending and services."
The four Dublin hospitals have all commenced colorectal screening and the primary objective is to detect pre-cancerous cells in the lining of the bowel, thereby making colorectal screening a truly preventative health measure.
The funding means the hospitals can buy video colonoscopes. Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in Ireland. Each year more than 2,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer and 900 people die from it.
One of the reasons is that more than half of people with bowel cancer are diagnosed in the latter stages of the disease which means that they require more complex treatment and have a poorer chance of survival.
Bowel cancer is treatable if caught in time and screening helps detect it at an early stage.
People who are concerned about bowel cancer can speak in confidence by calling the Irish Cancer Society's National Cancer Helpline on Freefone 1800 200 700.