New research from National Cancer Registry finds increased incidence rates in cervical cancer during 1994-2008, while mortality rates are unchanged

Incidence rates of cervical cancer rose in Ireland during 1994-2008 while death rates have not changed.

A new paper published ahead of print in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, by researchers at the National Cancer Registry, reports that incidence rates of cervical cancer rose in Ireland during 1994-2008 while death rates have not changed.

Dr Katie O’ Brien and Dr Linda Sharp used data from the National Cancer Registry and national death registration data to investigate incidence and mortality trends for cervical lesions.

Incidence of invasive cervical cancer and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN3; which is detected by screening) rose over the period 1994-2008; cancer rates rose by 1.8% per annum and CIN3 rates by 3.8% per annum. Cancer incidence was almost twice as high among women resident in the most deprived areas of the country, compared to those resident in the least deprived areas. Rates of deaths from cervical cancer in Ireland have not changed since the early 1970s. These trends contrast with those seen in the countries of the UK, which have well-organised population-based screening programmes, and where both incidence and mortality rates have fallen significantly. The authors suggest that the increase in cancer incidence in Ireland is most likely due to long-term changes in patterns of sexual behaviour. The pronounced rise in CIN3 rates points to considerable levels of opportunistic screening in Ireland, but the lack of a decline in mortality adds to international evidence suggesting that opportunistic screening is ineffective. 

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