Cancer survival rates rise in Ireland


Just as I reported in the last few days that cancer deaths are falling in the UK, an all-Ireland report issued today also shows that survival rates for cancer are continuing to rise,  even though the number of cases being diagnosed is increasing.

The report entitled Cancer incidence, mortality, treatment and survival in the North and South of Ireland: 1994-2004, was compiled by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry (NICR), at Queen’s University Belfast, and the National Cancer Registry (NCRI) of Ireland, in Cork. This is the third joint report between the NICR and the NCRI and reveals that each year over 21,000 people across Ireland are diagnosed with a form of cancer, with the most common being breast, colorectal, prostate and lung cancers.

Total incidence rates were 10 per cent higher for men and 2.2 per cent higher for women in the Republic of Ireland compared with Northern Ireland. The difference for men was mainly due to differences in prostate cancer diagnosis through increased testing in the Republic. The report also showed that mortality rates were around 4 per cent lower in Northern Ireland for men and women.

While the overall number of cancers has increased due to population growth and ageing and increased detection for some cancers including prostate and breast cancer, the number of cancer deaths has fallen. Improvements in survival for breast, colorectal and prostate cancer were recorded over the last decade and survival rates are not falling for any cancer.

The report was launched at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in Dublin by Irish Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney. Speaking at the launch she said: “I welcome the fall in cancer mortality and continued improvements in cancer survival in Ireland which have been increasing faster than most other countries. “I acknowledge the role of the National Cancer Control Programme in reducing the burden of cancer and the importance of prevention through smoking cessation and following a healthy lifestyle.”

Key Points:

  • 21,000 people each year on the island of Ireland are diagnosed with cancer.
  • Mortality rates for cancer have been found to be 4% higher in the Republic than in Northern Ireland.
  • Among the most common forms are breast, colorectal, prostate and lung cancers.
  •  Total number of diagnosed cancers rose during the period in question due to population growth, an ageing population and increased detection.
  •  Increased survival rates were due to improved testing and diagnosis
  • Cancer rates are higher in large urban areas and in areas that are economically less well-off.
  •  Some cancers can be prevented by stopping smoking, reducing alcohol intake, following a healthy diet, exercising and taking care in the sun.