I welcome this first All-Ireland Cancer Atlas, which provides a unique insight into geographical variation in cancer on the island of Ireland. I congratulate both Registries on their ongoing collaboration in data harmonisation, analysis and reporting, which has done much to advance our understanding of cancer in Ireland. The continuing partnership between the Registries shows the benefits of the NCI/Ireland/N. Ireland Consortium, a fundamental aim of which is to promote joint research of this kind.

This atlas provides new insights into cancer risk in Ireland and highlights the extent to which effective prevention could reduce the cancer burden in Ireland. It also poses some difficult questions with regard to unexplained variations in incidence and the role of socio-economic status in determining cancer risk. These are matters we need to understand better and the recommendations made for further study must be taken seriously by the Departments of Health in both jurisdictions.

This report shows yet again that improving public health requires high quality information and that, in cancer registries, we have a powerful, and almost unique, mechanism for providing this data both nationally and internationally.

I would like to pay a particular tribute to the Directors of each Registry, Dr Harry Comber and Dr Anna Gavin. This report, and the excellent collaboration upon which it depends, would not have come about without their committed and sustained leadership and vision over many years.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Republic of Ireland.

Cancer poses a significant present and future public health challenge.

In our efforts to control and prevent cancer at a population level it is essential that we continue to develop the evidence, ensuring through research that we continue to strive to understand the variation in cancer incidence, the implications for preventative strategies and the potential to identify new contributory factors.

This report, the latest manifestation of the collaboration between the cancer Registries in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, provides a most valuable overview of cancer distribution.  It describes the geographical distribution of some of the commonest cancers, highlighting the variation in the incidence of a range of cancers.  Whilst much of the variation in modifiable cancer burden is already known, this variation poses many questions that both policy makers and researchers alike will need to study and fully consider.  I am confident that this report will make a significant contribution to our growing understanding of cancer prevention with the potential to make a real impact in reducing cancer risk. I commend the work of all those who have been involved in contributing to its development and especially recognise the debt of gratitude to all of those who lived and are living with cancer whose data is included in the report.

Dr Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer, Northern Ireland.

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