NEARLY half the patients treated for lung cancer in the country's largest hospital in the last decade were ex-smokers.
The rest were current smokers while around one in ten who developed the disease never smoked.
The statistics emerged in a ten-year cancer audit report published by St James's Hospital in Dublin which treats more than one in four patients in the country with various forms of the disease.
Cancer specialist Prof John Reynolds said while quitting smoking lowers risk and has other major health benefits the message is to never start taking up the habit.
There were 700 patients diagnosed with lung cancer at the hospital last year.
The hospital found that more patients with lung cancer are coming for treatment early and their chances of cure are much higher.
The report revealed:
*In 2012, almost 4000 new cancer patients were diagnosed and/or treated in St. James's Hospital. Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, this is almost a doubling of new cancer referrals over the decade.
*They survival rate for breast cancer patients is now nearly 82pc.
*There has been a 100pc increase in new referrals for lung cancer, oesophageal cancer, stomach cancer, head and neck cancer, and malignant melanoma.
*The average age of patients diagnosed and/or treated is 60 years
*Regarding skin cancer, here has over a doubling of new diagnoses of malignant melanoma since 2003, with 152 patients diagnosed and managed in 2012, and a five year survival rate of 87pc.
*The number of urology cancers have risen 2.5-fold increase and there has been a 5-fold increase in prostate cancer alone.
Prof Reynolds said: “The ultimate objective in terms of the delivery of cancer care is that those in receipt of services experience outcomes on a par with best international standards.
“All cancer patients want to know if they can be cured, and five-year survival rates, a proxy for cure, is easily the most important outcome metric in evaluating cancer services.
“These audit data enable us to provide actual rather than inferred outcome data to our patients - they will know stage for stage what the actual cure rate is in this Centre.
“In the future, on-going audit of all cancer activity at this Centre will underpin continuous quality improvement in cancer clinical care aligned to clinical trials, and state of the art translational cancer research.”