New online population cancer screening course announced for doctors and healthcare professionals

l-r Professor Mary Horgan, President, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and Professor Patricia Fitzpatrick, Professor of Epidemiology and Biomedical Statistics, and Head of Subject for Public Health at UCD

This free-of-charge course was developed by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and Professor Patricia Fitzpatrick, UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science with other UCD clinical colleagues and funded by the HSE.

A trusted source of information

A new online course has been developed to improve the knowledge of doctors and other healthcare professionals about the benefits and limitation of cancer screening for the population.

This new course will support doctors in their role as a trusted source of information and will enable them to effectively communicate the benefits and limitations of screening with their patients during consultations.

Screening Services in Ireland, including the CervicalCheck programme have saved thousands of lives and greatly reduced the incidence of cancers. Degrees of uncertainty are inherent in most medical testing and as doctors we balance all elements of this uncertainty on a daily basis for the benefit of the patient.

We are pleased to offer this learning opportunity in partnership with UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science. As a college we are fully committed to supporting essential screening services and maintaining trust in our screening programmes. Screening saves lives but will not prevent cancer in all individuals who are screened. I would urge healthcare professionals to take an hour to complete this course so that they can clearly explain to patients why this is the case.

Professor Mary Horgan,

President, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

The short course, which will be available in early July, will contain three interactive modules, focusing on the principles of population testing; differentiating diagnostic and screening tests; an overview of national screening programmes; interval cancers, definition and rates, and criteria used to decide on population screening programmes.

Trust in, and engagement with screening programmes is an important factor in reducing cancer burden. As healthcare professionals, we must have up to date information to communicate with our patients and to offer reassurance around their concerns. This short course will allow health professionals to update their knowledge of screening issues and allow informed conversations with patients and the public.

Professor Patricia Fitzpatrick

Professor of Epidemiology and Biomedical Statistics, and Head of Subject for Public Health at UCD

The launch of this course could not be more timely. We know screening programmes save lives by reducing the prevalence of and death from cancer. It is essential that healthcare professionals are enabled to communicate the benefits and the limitations of regular screening to people who stand to benefit from participation in these programmes. This course is a significant step in supporting doctors to comment effectively and accurately.

Dr Colm Henry

Chief Clinical Officer, HSE

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