An atlas of cancer in Ireland 1994-2003

An atlas of cancer in Ireland 1994-2003
Publication date: 
December, 2009
Related staff: 
Ms Anne-Elie Carsin (former staff)
Prof Linda Sharp (former staff)
Dr Harry Comber (former staff)

This atlas provides detailed geographical information on the distribution of all the common cancers in Ireland, over a ten year period from 1994 to 2003.

The atlas shows that:

  • For most cancers, there is significant geographical variation in risk based on residence and that the variations are, in the main, different for different cancers.
  • Most cancers showed a relationship (either positive or negative) to area deprivation scores.
  • More densely populated areas consistently had a higher risk of cancer than those that were sparsely populated.
  • The risk of almost all cancers analysed was higher in areas with the highest proportion of elderly people living on their own.

In addition to describing the geographical patterns of cancer, the atlas also examines the role of a range of risk factors, including smoking, diet, poverty and environment, in determining the geographical variations found.

Some geographical variation in cancer incidence may be due to differences in health awareness, in participation in screening, or in access to cancer services. However, it is generally accepted that it is predominantly the result of differences in well-known risk factors such as tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking, obesity, diet and sexual behaviour. By reducing exposure to risk factors, cancer incidence in Ireland, and the disparities described in this report, could be greatly reduced.

However, many cancer risk factors are not yet known, or are poorly understood, and some of the patterns in cancer risk observed in this report could not be explained on the basis what we currently know. We recommend a national research programme to explore, at the individual level, the relationship of known and suspected risk factors to cancer risk and to search for unknown risk factors.

To view the atlas you will need Adobe® Reader®.

View individual chapters.

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