Jump in cancer cases 'not speculation'

  • Deborah Condon

The incidence of cancer in Ireland is set to jump over the coming years and this is ‘not speculation', a leading doctor has warned.

According to the latest projections by the National Cancer Registry Ireland (NCRI), between 2010 and 2040, the incidence of cancer in Ireland is projected to double, with all cancer types expected to rise except for leukaemia in men.

This is expected to place a major burden on future services. However according to NCRI director, Dr Harry Comber, whether these services will be able to cope with this increasing burden is a question for health planners, such as the National Cancer Control Programme.

"People are aware of these figures. This is coming down the tracks - it is not speculation. Even if you introduced 100% screening capabilities tomorrow, most of this would still happen," he told Irishhealth.com.

Cancer incidence is set to rise due to a combination of factors, including increasing age and lifestyle factors, such as obesity and smoking.

In the case of smoking for example, this is expected to have a major impact on the incidence of lung cancer over the next 25 years.

According to the NCRI projections, the incidence of lung cancer is expected to increase more rapidly in females. By 2040, the rate is expected to be 136% higher among women than in 2010. Among men, it is expected to increase by 52% during the same period.

"This is directly down to smoking. Twenty years ago, men were quitting smoking more than women and this is now feeding into the lung cancer figures," Dr Comber explained.

Meanwhile, the NCRI also projects big increases in cancers of the colon and rectum, which are expected to rise by up to 130% between 2010 and 2040.

Cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract, including cancer of the oesophagus and pancreas, are also expected to increase by over 100% by 2040.

For more on these figures and Dr Comber's views, see our feature here


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