Skin cancer - the most common male cancer among VHI customers last year

Skin cancer was the most common male cancer among Vhi Healthcare members in Galway last year.

A total of 162 men were treated for the condition at a cost of €284,000, according to the health insurance company.

The second most common cancer was prostate cancer - 116 local men were treated at a cost of €1.19 million in 2013 - followed by colorectal cancer. Fifty-six Galway males were treated for this at a cost of €1.16 million.

Galway prostate cancer cases have risen by 5.5 per cent since 2009, according to figures released by Vhi Healthcare to mark its sponsorship of Blue September, a nationwide awareness and fundraising campaign highlighting high rates of cancer in men.

The company announced that more than 116 of its Galway male customers were treated for prostate cancer in 2013 at a cost of €1.19 million compared with 110 customers treated in 2009 at a cost of €1.05 million.

The National Cancer Registry annual report for 2013 indicates that the incidence of prostate cancer in Ireland was the fourth highest of 27 European countries, after Norway, France and Sweden. This country recorded rates more than 50 per cent higher than the EU average.

Dr Bernadette Carr, the medical director of Vhi Healthcare, stated that despite the increasing prevalence of cancer in Ireland, survival rates are continuing to improve.

“This is due primarily to huge improvements in treatments and therapies. Increased awareness, including earlier detection and access to appropriate screening services also contribute to more successful outcomes.”

She explained that the Blue September campaign aims to get Irish men to face up to cancer; to be aware of the risks, to check themselves regularly, and to be proactive about looking after their health.

She continued: “This year the campaign is asking us all to keep up the fight with the Vhi Healthcare Blue September Keepy Uppy online game. All proceeds will go towards fundraising for improved diagnostics; treatment and care for men with cancer. Log on to www.blueseptember.ie to play and donate €4.”

Blue September, sponsored by Vhi Healthcare, is an international initiative co-ordinated in Ireland by the Men’s Cancer Alliance which includes the Mater Foundation, Mercy Hospital Foundation and Cancer Care West, which is based in Galway.

The MCA was formed by these charities to create awareness about men’s cancers, the treatments and supports available and to raise funds to create and maintain a number of men’s cancer support initiatives around Ireland. Further information on Blue September can be accessed at www.blueseptember.ie

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