A campaign aimed at raising awareness about oesophageal cancer has been launched by Minister for Health James Reilly.

Ireland has one of the highest rates of oesophageal cancer in Europe, with around 450 new cases diagnosed each year.

Mr Reilly said prevention was better than cure.

He said obesity played a huge role in the cancer and that tobacco and alcohol were also major risk factors.

The minister said he wanted to see an increase in survival rates for oesophageal cancer in the same way that survival rates had increased dramatically for testicular cancer.

Speaking at the beginning of this year's "Lollipop Day” campaign, Mr Reilly said his mother had died from oesophageal cancer.

Professor John Reynolds of St James's Hospital said the cure rate of patients presenting with the cancer had increased from 25% to 45% since the 1990s.

He said this was helped by increased awareness and the warning signs associated with the disease.

The "Lollipop Day" campaign will take place on Friday and Saturday.