Cancer touches us all, whether we contract cancer ourselves, or have friends and family who have had cancer.
In recent years, there has been considerable progress in the understanding of cancer and its treatment, leading to significant advances in the quality of care and the treatment which cancer patients receive.
As our population ages, the number of people who develop cancer will continue to increase. Because of the advances in diagnosis and treatment, more people are living with, and beyond, cancer than ever before.
At a broader level, the Department of Health and Social Care ('DHSC') has emphasised the need to focus its attention on prevention and early detection, in the Strategy for the Future of Health Services in the Isle of Man. Nowhere is this more applicable than in the field of cancer.
The DHSC, working with other government departments and the Third Sector, has already developed several programmes of cancer prevention.
Screening offers an opportunity to detect cancer early and eradicate it before it advances. Services are now in place for bowel, cervical and breast screening.
The rising cost of healthcare is a challenge that every country in the world faces; in addition, we have to meet this rising cost against a backdrop of financial constraints.
Again, cancer is an area where there are rapid advances in diagnosis and treatment - more so than in many other areas. We need to ensure that we provide a Cancer Service which can provide the latest form of treatment, but at the same time make certain that we secure maximum improvement in health for the resources expended. We also need to ensure that we balance the needs of cancer patients with those with other conditions.
All these present major challenges which we will need to address.
The National Cancer Plan for the Isle of Man 2012-2022 sets out the direction for the development of cancer services. To address the details and costs, an implementation plan will be developed by DH, working closely with other stakeholders. This implementation plan will focus on the delivery of a high-quality Cancer Service for the Isle of Man.