Increases in prostate cancer to be investigated by National Cancer Registry

A new report launched today by Dr Elizabeth Keane, Chair, National Cancer Registry Board, at a press conference at 11.30 am, in the Merrion Hotel, Dublin, highlights a major increase in prostate cancer in Ireland in the last few years, with the highest incidence of this cancer being found in the southwest of the country. The findings of the report “Cancer in Ireland 1994 – 2001” has stimulated a major cross-border investigation by the National Cancer Registry into prostate cancer incidence and screening, details of which were announced at the press conference.  

The number of cancer cases is increasing by 2.3% annually, from 19,290 in 1994 to 22,473 in 2001, with an annual average of 20,523 over the whole period. Although non-melanoma skin cancer is the commonest cancer, this cancer has only a minor health impact, and the commonest of the major cancers is colorectal (bowel) cancer, at 1,821 cases a year. Unlike breast and lung cancers, which have their respective national screening and prevention programmes, there is no national strategy for dealing with colorectal cancer. The Registry has begun a study into the economic impact of this cancer and the most cost-effective way of dealing with it.

The report shows large geographical differences in the incidence of cancer. Many of the major cancers appeared to be more common in the east of the country, but there were important exceptions to this. A Ireland/UK cancer atlas, due for publication on July 4th, will put these geographical variations in a wider context, while our current programme of coding cases to small area will allow us to focus on suspected areas of high incidence.

We have also found that surgery rates for most major cancers were higher for patients living in the east in the period 1994-2001, as were rates of radiotherapy. As the report also shows, radiotherapy and chemotherapy rates for most cancers are increasing, and these geographical differences are likely to become less. As a follow-up to the 2004 report “Patterns of care and survival from cancer in Ireland, 1994 to 1998” we intend to produce a comprehensive analysis of patterns of treatment and survival for the period 1999-2001. This report, planned to appear later this year, should show in detail the initial impact of the National Cancer Strategy on cancer treatment.


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