Survival rates for cancer are improving - report
Published 14/12/2015 | 02:30
More people diagnosed with common cancers are surviving - but men have a 30pc higher risk of dying from the disease than women, the annual report of the National Cancer Registry has revealed.
Acting director Dr Harry Comber said that survival at five years following diagnosis improved from 57pc to 61pc for bowel cancer patients. It is also up from 80pc to 82pc for breast cancer and from 56pc to 62pc for cervical cancer.
The figures compare patients diagnosed in 2008-2012 compared to 2003-2007.
However, the risk of dying is still higher for men due to a range of reasons including the kinds of cancers they get, such as lung and stomach, which have a higher mortality rate.
"For every cancer you look at, men tend to have poorer survival than women do. Some of it may be due to later stage diagnosis or they tend to be in poorer health. There is a difference that is not fully explained," he said.
Overall, the risk for men of developing cancer, which had been rising steadily since at least 1994, may now be plateauing. The risk of lung cancer continues to fall for men, due to so many quitting smoking - but it is still increasing for women.
The report shows that about 37,000 new cancers or other tumours were registered annually in 2011-2013, of which about 30,000 were malignant, meaning they were potentially fatal. Of this 30,000, 10,000 were non-melanoma cancers of the skin, which is the commonest cancer, but is rarely fatal.
But there is a rise in people being diagnosed with melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, linked to getting badly sunburned at a young age.
Almost 9,000 people died of cancer in 2012, around the same as from cardiovascular disease. Lung cancer was the most common cause of cancer death - one in five of the total.
At the end of 2013 there were around 124,000 cancer survivors who had been diagnosed over the previous 20 years. Some 29,828 of these were breast cancer survivors; 28,432 had prostate cancer; 16,754, bowel cancer and 8,510 had melanoma of the skin.
Dr Comber said: "Cancer now accounts for 30pc of all deaths in Ireland. . . The number of cases is still increasing, but there has been no recent increase in risk overall for men. . . However, the recent fall in female smoking has not yet made any impact on female risk. Cancer risk in women continues to rise."