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National Cancer Registry

Irish men at higher risk of getting cancer and dying from it than women

After non melanoma skin cancer, the most common cancers in men are prostate cancer, bowel cancer and lung cancer.

IRISH MEN ARE more likely to get cancer than women, and are also at a higher risk of dying from the disease, according to new figures from the National Cancer Registry.

The NCRI has today published its annual report, which estimates that the numbers of invasive cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) have risen to about 23,890 diagnoses annually, or 35,441 cases including all invasive cancers.

According to the registry, just over 9,000 deaths from cancer currently occur per year.

An estimated 12,769 males and 11,120 females are diagnosed with an invasive cancer each year. The age-adjusted risk of developing cancer was about 22% higher for men than women overall (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers), and also higher for most cancer types. 

The Irish Cancer Society expressed concern about the figures, pointing out that the mortality rates indicate the risk of dying from cancer was about 32% higher for men than for women.

Survival rates for men who are diagnosed with diseases like prostate and testicular cancer are high, but figures show men fare worse when they get common cancers that both men and women can have, such as lung, bowel and skin cancer. 

“It is vital that we all take collective action on it,” commented Conal Buggy, head of services for the Irish Cancer Society.

Men’s health needs a renewed focus and funding by the State for cancer prevention programmes. We also need further research into what the barriers are for men when it comes to choosing healthy behaviours or accessing healthcare and screening.

Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate and female breast cancer were the most commonly diagnosed invasive cancers overall, and each comprised almost one-third of all invasive cancers in men and women respectively during the period 2017-2019.

Bowel cancer, lung cancer, melanoma of skin and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) were the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th most common cancers in males.

Lung cancer, bowel cancer, melanoma of skin, and uterine cancer (corpus uteri) were the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th most common cancers in females.

Rates of cancer incidence have generally stabilised or even declined in recent years, according to the report. However population growth and ageing is expected to result in a substantial increase in the number of cases over the coming decades, potentially doubling by 2045. 

Survival rates for Irish cancer patients continue to improve and these improvements are seen in most types of cancer. 

There were an estimated 180,000 people living after a diagnosis of invasive cancer other than non- melanoma skin cancer at the end of 2017. This figure is equivalent to 3.8% of the Irish population, and is likely to reach 200,000 by 2020.

The NCRI said although survival improvements are largely attributable to improvements in treatment over time, increases in early detection of some cancers, particularly through screening, have also contributed to improved outcomes.

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