People who are concerned about cancer symptoms are being encouraged to go to their doctors as soon as possible.

Today is World Cancer Day and the Irish Cancer Society said that early detection is crucial to successfully treat the disease.

Anne Callinan, from Athlone, knows all about the benefits of acting early. Her cancer story began in April 2020.

The 58-year-old said she "just wasn't feeling right". She was slightly out of breath and had a slight wheeze.  But rather than brushing if off, she went to her doctor and following various tests she was diagnosed with lung cancer in June.

"I was totally shocked," she said. "I didn't know how to really deal with it and I thought 'God, I felt so sorry for people who I had heard had cancer and now I am going to deal with it myself'. But I knew I'd be well able to deal with it."

The delivery of cancer care has been affected because of the pandemic.

Screening services have been affected and there has been a rise in the number of people with cancer symptoms who are putting off going to their GP due to a fear about catching Covid-19 and not wanting to "burden" the health service.

But Anne said the pandemic did not put her off seeking treatment.

"I never had a wheeze before ... I felt 'this isn't normal'. I kept plugging until I found out what it was.''

Months of treatment followed her diagnosis and because of Covid restrictions, it meant she had to face chemotherapy on her own, without the support of her family.

"It was very difficult. You go alone. The cancer society, and the nurses and doctors and the staff at the hospitals couldn't be nicer, so you never actually feel alone while you are there, but it is very hard.

"I didn't have the support of my family to come into the hospital with me. I had it when I came home certainly, but you go on your own and it's not easy."

A theme for this year's World Cancer Day is an emphasis on surviving cancer.

Anne is hopeful for the future. Her chemotherapy finished in October and she shortly begins immunotherapy.

Her message today is clear.

"If you feel there is something not right, have it checked out. It might be nothing and great if it is, but at least you'll put your mind at ease.

"Nobody wants to hear bad news, I didn't, but I knew there was something not right."