"Surprisingly, even though we are dealing with two different healthcare systems there is remarkably little variation in treatment, with improvements over time in both countries. Cancer is a significant burden on health and this comparative analysis will point to areas for further research to improve cancer prevention and standardise care for patients.
"Over 94,000 people who were diagnosed with cancer between 1994 and 2004 were still alive at the end of 2004. Many of them have been cured but many others still need care and treatment so support services are extremely important."
Dr David Donnelly, lead author of the report, said some of the major cancers in Ireland were preventable: "Lung, oesophageal, stomach, head and neck, kidney, bladder and cervical cancer all have a common risk factor in tobacco use. "Most of these cancers especially lung, oesophagus and stomach have very poor survival.
"Tobacco use is also a major factor in explaining higher rates of cancer in the urban areas of Belfast, Dublin, Cork and Derry and in the most deprived geographic areas in Ireland compared to the most affluent. Fortunately incidence of several smoking related cancers has fallen among males, although incidence of lung cancer among females in Ireland is increasing.
"Poor diet and obesity also increase the risk of several cancers, including breast cancer and colorectal cancer, two of the major cancers in Ireland. Improvements in diet and increased physical exercise would likely result in a reduction in the levels of colorectal cancer, and help reverse the increases in breast cancer seen over the last decade."
Dr Harry Comber, Director of the NCRI, said increased testing for prostate cancer in the Republic of Ireland had made a difference to the figures: "Comparing survival between the North and South of Ireland reveals that five-year survival for me
|Contact: Andrea Clements|
Queen's University Belfast