Cancer inequalities in Ireland by deprivation, 2004-2018

This report measures differences in cancer incidence, five-year survival and stage at presentation between populations living in the most and least deprived areas in Ireland for the diagnosis period 2014-2018.  Comparative information is also provided for earlier periods (2004-2008 and 2009-2013).

Key findings include:

  • Overall, there was a 7% higher age-standardised incidence for males and a 5% higher incidence for females living in most deprived areas compared to those living in the least deprived areas in 2014-2018
  • Overall, there was lower five-year cancer survival rates in patients from the most deprived areas compared to those in the least deprived areas. Those in the most deprived areas had a 28% higher mortality risk due to cancer within five years of cancer diagnosis compared to those in the least deprived areas, having adjusted for age, gender, and cancer type.
  • Differences in the types of cancers diagnosed in the most and least deprived areas, with a higher incidence of stomach, lung and cervical cancer in people living in most deprived areas, while those living in least deprived areas show a higher incidence of breast, prostate, and melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer.
  • People living in the most deprived areas had a higher risk of late-stage presentation for breast and prostate cancers than those living in least deprived areas.  No disparities in stage of presentation were found for lung or colorectal cancers when comparing the least and most deprived groups.
  • Although cancer incidence rates have fallen and survival rates have improved over time across the majority of cancers and for all sectors of society, there is no evidence of any reduction in disparities between those living in the least and the most deprived areas.

A range of potential factors may contribute to such disparities, including differences in general health, exposure to particular risk factors, health-seeking behaviour (influencing early detection), access to healthcare, or other factors that may be linked to socioeconomic or geographic factors. Disentangling these factors and their relative importance is far from straightforward, and many challenges remain in tackling the root causes of such inequalities.

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