Breast cancer survival best in UK
Published 05/12/2013 | 00:06
More women survive breast cancer in Northern Ireland than anywhere else in the UK or Republic, it has been revealed.
Researchers found that 81.9% of those diagnosed successfully battled the life-threatening illness compared with 79.3% in England, 78.2% in Wales and 78.5% in Scotland while i n the Republic 21% of cases of breast cancer resulted in death.
The high survival rates have been attributed to a huge shake-up in and centralisation of services during the 1990s as well as the use of several new therapies.
Health Minister Edwin Poots said: "We work continuously to raise our standards and keep cancer services up to modern quality standards - it is particularly encouraging to see that these figures indicate that we have been doing just that."
The findings were included as part of a major new study which analysed data from 10 million adult cancer patients who received treatment between 2000 and 2007 and were followed up through 2008.
It also revealed skin cancer survival rates in Northern Ireland were among the highest in Europe at 90.7% - more than 7% above average.
Dr Anna Gavin, director of the Queen's University Northern Ireland cancer registry, said awareness-raising campaigns encouraging people to take care in the sun had paid off.
But it was not all good news.
Even though Northern Ireland's survival rates for breast, rectum, prostate and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are similar to the European average, they were much lower for stomach, colon, lung, ovarian and kidney cancers.
Dr Gavin said much work had to be done, particularly around treatment of older patients.
She added: "Half the cancers in Northern Ireland occur in older people yet we are falling behind in treating them. That may be because they have other diseases and because they present at a later stage with the disease so there is less that can be done.
"I would encourage anyone who is worried about a symptom, if they are having difficulty swallowing, if they are losing weight, have a lump, notice a change in their bowel habits or have a cough they cannot get rid of to see their GP."
Dr Gavin said survival rates of tobacco-related cancers were also low and called for greater efforts to be made to reduce levels of smoking.