A new Rapid Access Clinic to ensure early diagnosis of prostate cancer is to open in Galway.

The service is one of two schemes being piloted at St James's Hospital in Dublin and University Hospital Galway.

The National Cancer Control Programme says the service will be available nationally at all designated cancer clinics within 12 months.

Prostate cancer affects almost 2,500 men in Ireland on an annual basis. More than 500 die each year from the disease.

The highest death rates occur in the west of Ireland.

Currently patients are referred to urology clinics in over 20 hospitals nationwide, leading to widespread delays in receiving diagnosis.

The development of Rapid Access Clinics will fast track early detection and treatment of the disease.

Patients will have results within two weeks of referral, and if needed, will be provided with immediate access to specialist cancer care.

The National Cancer Control Programme plans to roll out the service in each of the eight national centres of excellence over the coming months.