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Lung cancer kills more women than breast tumours

Lung cancer is now a bigger killer of Irish women than breast cancer as years of smoking take their toll.

While the number of new cases diagnosed and death rates from lung cancer in men in the Republic fell between 1994 and 2008, the reverse happened for women.

The rate is rising by 2pc a year in women and, in a worrying trend, the largest increase of 4pc a year is seen in those under 55 years of age, the annual report of the National Cancer Registry revealed.

"Lung cancer has now overtaken breast cancer as the cancer most likely to cause death in women," said registry director, Dr Harry Comber.

The report, published today, shows 1,059 men and 652 women were diagnosed with lung cancer each year on average between 1994 and 2008.

An average of 571 women die annually from the disease, which claims the lives of 966 men.


However, the good news is that more are surviving -- the percentage alive five years after diagnosis rose from 8pc in 1994-1999 to 11pc in 2004-2007.

The numbers having chemotherapy doubled in 10 years but survival rates for men and older patients, as well as those from deprived areas did not do as well.

The report, which looked at all cancers, showed that the number of people diagnosed with the disease had risen by almost 50pc since the mid-1990s due to an ageing population and bad lifestyle habits.

The number of new cases of invasive cancer rose from 17,429 in 1994 to 24,809 in 2009 -- an annual rise of 2.7pc for women and 3pc for men.

An average of 29,745 people a year were registered as having cancer between 2007 and 2009, -- a rise of 12pc from the previous three years.

The lifetime risk of getting cancer for men is one in three compared to one in four for women, according to the report. But 90,000 are now alive 15 years after their diagnosis and cancer death rates here are now close to the European average.

The percentage of patients still alive five years after a cancer diagnosis has risen significantly from 40pc in 1994-1997 to 55pc in 2004-2007.

The report covers years before the overhaul of cancer services. The highest death rates were for lung, bowel, breast and prostate cancer.

Although the number of people with cancer of the pancreas, oesophagus and ovary were lower, they represented a greater proportion of those who died from the disease. Ireland had the eighth highest rate of bowel cancer in men and women in 30 European countries.

The report again confirmed that where people lived contributed to their cancer risk -- cancers of the lung, head, neck and cervix were more common in deprived areas; while skin, breast and prostate cancers were more common in affluent areas.

Irish Independent