Saturday 14 December 2019

'Cancer gap' emerges as cancer death rates are higher in poorer areas

Cancer death rates varied from 381 per 100,000 in Blakestown North-West in Dublin to 128 per 100,000 in Castleknock South-East. Picture posed by models
Cancer death rates varied from 381 per 100,000 in Blakestown North-West in Dublin to 128 per 100,000 in Castleknock South-East. Picture posed by models
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

New research shows people living in poorer areas are twice as likely to die from cancer.

Dr Jen Rigby at the Centre for Health Geo-informatics at Maynooth University collected data from the Central Statistics Office on mortality and created a new map of cancer death rates.

The results show that death rates in some of the poorest parts of Dublin are more than twice as high as rates in more affluent areas.

Cancer death rates varied during 2009 - 2011 (combined) varied from:

  •     381 per 100,000 in Blakestown North-West
  •     310 per 100,000 in Blanchardstown North
  •     265 per 100,000 in Ballymum East
  •     141 per 100,000 in Foxrock/Cabinteely SW
  •     138 per 100,000 in Malahide East
  •     128 per 100,000 in Castleknock South-East

The Head of Advocacy and Communications at the Irish Cancer Society, Kathleen O’Meara called on the HSE and Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to take on the issue which sees neighbouring areas like Blakestown and Castleknock differ dramatically in figures.

 “We’re calling it the cancer gap and we say it’s unacceptable,” she told Newstalk Breakfast today.

Ms O'Meara said improvements need to be made in the availability of efficient cancer screening services and the number of GPs working in poor areas.

“Treatment is the same once you get into hospital and we should acknowledge that great strides have been made.”

“So we need to ask questions like are you going for screening? Can you get a colonoscopy on time?”

“If you have private health insurance, you’ll get a colonoscopy in two weeks... in some areas in Dublin there simply aren’t enough GPs and you’re waiting a few weeks”

“The burden of illness is falling disproportionally.”

She called on Minister Leo Varadkar “to recognise that these areas need more support, they need more help”, and to help smokers kick their habits.

“Over 50pc of younger, poorer women smoke,” she said.

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