Ireland among nations to record huge fall in bowel cancer deaths
Ireland is among the countries which have seen reductions in bowel cancer deaths of 25pc in men and 30pc in women over the past two decades, according to a new study.
Deaths from bowel cancer have been falling in an increasing number of European countries. Yet considerable disparities still exist between men and women and between specific regions in Europe.
Around 950 women and 1,330 men are diagnosed with bowel cancer annually in Ireland.
The authors pointed out that bowel cancer is a major public health issue in most western countries. Over the past two decades, mortality has been steadily decreasing in many European countries, mainly due to a reduction in risk factors such as smoking and alcohol intake, greater participation in screening, and advances in treatments.
But important disparities still exist, particularly between northwest Europe, where the earliest and largest declines were observed, and the rest of Europe, the British Medical Journal reported.
The research, led by the Department of Population Research, International Prevention Research Institute, in Lyon, France, found reductions in mortality of more than 25pc in men and 30pc in women occurred in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, and Ireland.
By contrast, mortality rates fell by less than 17pc in the Netherlands and Sweden for both sexes.
Possible reasons for the difference between the sexes include the fact that men are less likely than women to participate in screening, are less well informed about health issues, and are less inclined to seek medical advice, say the authors. Men also have less varied dietary habits and higher levels of smoking and alcohol consumption than women.
The researchers said countries with the largest reductions seem to have the highest levels of screening.
This especially involves endoscopic screening. These strategies "could be used as models to design and implement effective health policies to prevent death from bowel cancer".