Number of cancers diagnosed in Ireland continues to rise

A report published today by the National Cancer Registry (Cancer in Ireland 2011) shows that the number of cancer cases diagnosed each year has risen by almost 50% since the mid 1990’s and that over 90,000 people are now alive 15 years after their cancer diagnosis. The report estimates that in 2006, cancer cost 120,000 person-years of life, up from 99,000 in 1996.

Commenting on the figures, Dr Harry Comber, Director of the National Cancer Registry, said “Although the risk of developing cancer is increasing by less than 1% a year, the number of new cases, and the number of cancer survivors, is increasing by about 3%, due to the ageing of our population. These numbers will place an increasing burden on our cancer services in years to come and emphasise the need to take a determined approach to prevention.

Other findings in the report are that

  • Lung cancer has now overtaken breast cancer as the cancer most likely to cause death in women.
  • Overall cancer incidence in Ireland was the second highest in Europe in 2008; it was also 2nd highest for men and 4th highest for women.
  • Overall cancer mortality in Ireland was close to the European average.
  • Prostate cancer incidence in Ireland was the highest in Europe, but mortality was 11th highest.
  • Where people lived seemed to contribute to cancer risk—cancers of the lung, head and neck and cervix were more common in deprived areas, while melanoma and cancers of the breast and prostate were more common in affluent areas.
  • The use of chemotherapy has increased for almost all cancers over the past 10 years, while overall surgery and radiotherapy rates have remained much the same.
  • The percentage of patients still alive five years after a cancer diagnosis has increased significantly, from 40% in 1994-1997 to 55% in 2004-2007. Similar improvements in survival were seen for most cancer sites.

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