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Cancer

People in Ireland's most deprived areas have higher risk of dying from cancer, report finds

The study also found differences in the types of cancers diagnosed in the most and least deprived areas.

PEOPLE WHO LIVE in the most deprived areas have almost a 30% higher risk of dying from cancer within five years of a diagnosis than those in more affluent areas of Ireland, according to a new report. 

The report, published by the National Cancer Registry Ireland (NCRI), measures differences in cancer incidence, five-year survival and stage at presentation between people living in the most and least deprived areas of Ireland between the years 2014 and 2018. 

Those in the most deprived areas had a 28% higher mortality risk due to cancer within five years of cancer diagnosis compared to those in the least deprived areas, the report found. 

The study found differences in the types of cancers diagnosed in the most and least deprived areas.

There was a higher incidence of stomach, lung and cervical cancer in people living in the most deprived areas, while those living in the least deprived areas showed a higher incidence of breast, prostate and melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. 

People living in the most deprived areas had a higher risk of late-stage presentation for breast and prostate cancers than those living in the least deprived areas. 

No disparities in stage of presentation were found for lung or colorectal cancers when comparing the least and most deprived groups. 

The researchers said a range of potential factors may contribute to such disparities, including differences in general health, exposure to particular risk factors, health-seeking behaviour (influencing early detection), access to healthcare, or other factors that may be linked to socioeconomic or geographic factors.

Disentangling these factors and their relative importance is far from straightforward, and many challenges remain in tackling the root causes of such inequalities, the researchers said.

“There is an increased focus on cancer inequalities experienced across the cancer continuum as part of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan,” NCRI co-author Dr Niamh Bambury said.

“Monitoring cancer inequalities is important to identify groups who might benefit from targeted risk reduction interventions and to assess the impact of cancer strategies,” Bambury said.

“This report provides the most up-to-date, reliable information on the effect of deprivation on cancer incidence and five-year survival.”

Bambury added that “the socioeconomic and individual factors that contribute to cancer disparities are manifold and require a whole system response”.

“In the health field, advancement of policy initiatives, including Sláintecare and Healthy Ireland, are needed to help address the root causes of these disparities.”

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