Sunday 15 September 2019

Breast cancer survival rate significantly lower in the west than in the south

Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Aoife Moore/PA
Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Aoife Moore/PA
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The survival rate from breast cancer is lowest in the west of Ireland at 80pc and highest the south at 86.6pc, according to a new report.

In the years 2011 to 2015, the national average survival rate from the disease was 85pc, according to the National Healthcare Quality Reporting System Annual Report 2019.

It was 86.3pc in the Dublin and mid-Leinster region and 85.9pc in the north east, according to the report.

Various factors influence survival, including the stage of the cancer and treatment.

Over the past 10 years the uptake of breast cancer screening among eligible women invited by BreastCheck averaged 76.4pc.

This is higher than the OECD average of 60.8pc.

Survival rates for cervical cancer over the same period were 66.2pc but were highest in the west at 67.2pc.

The report only covers uptake of screening with CervicalCheck in 2017, before the scandal broke in May 2018. At that stage uptake was 78pc, less than the 80pc target. It was highest among 25-29-year-olds. At a county level, uptake ranged from 70pc in Laois to 91pc in Carlow.

Survival rates for lung cancer between 2010 and 2014 were 19.5pc. It is the most common form of cancer in men in the EU and the second highest among women. Survival rates for bowel cancer between 2011 and 2015 were 63.1pc.

From 2016 to 2017, just 15 counties met the target of 50pc uptake under the Bowelscreen programme, which offers free tests to certain age groups. It fell to 38.3pc in Tipperary.

The report outlines that most breast cancers are treated with a combination of treatments; surgery, radiotherapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy and/or immunotherapy.

"The majority (85pc) of patients will have some form of surgical intervention," the report says.

"International evidence advises that breast cancer patients experience better outcomes when treated by surgeons who perform high volumes of breast cancer surgery (a minimum of 50 per year) and when that treatment is received in high volume centres.

"In 2006, breast cancer surgery was undertaken in 32 public hospitals in Ireland, and several hospitals recorded less than 50 procedures in the year."

The report states that since 2007, the National Cancer Control Programme has been established to reorganise the way cancer care is delivered in Ireland.

Eight hospitals were designated as cancer centres. An additional satellite for breast cancer services was provided in one location. Surgical treatment of breast cancer has been centralised to these designated cancer centres.

Breast cancer is the most common malignant tumour diagnosed in women in Ireland, with approximately 2,800 cases each year. This represents almost one-third of all major cancers diagnosed in women.

Irish Independent

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