Survival rates for cancer in Ireland have improved, according to figures published in the medical journal The Lancet.

Speaking ahead of World Cancer Day tomorrow, Minister for Health Simon Harris said the figures show that five-year survival rates for cancer in Ireland have improved from just over 44% between 1994 and 1998 to just over 60% between 2010 and 2014.

He said: "The National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026 aims to ensure that survival rates in Ireland continue to improve and that, over the lifetime of this strategy, Irish survival rates will reach the top quartile in Europe."

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He said World Cancer Day has a particular focus on prevention and survivorship and "we can all take small steps to reduce our risk of developing cancer".

Minister Harris said reducing alcohol is a important step in reducing cancer risk and said the Public Health Alcohol Bill, which bans below-cost selling of alcohol, is to return to the Oireachtas this week.

Around 20,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in Ireland every year and while cancer rates have fallen or stabilised in recent years, the actual number of cancers diagnosed has continue to rise each year, with Ireland's increasing and aging population a factor.