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Breast cancer survival rates rise in Northern Ireland

Breast cancer survival rates in Northern Ireland increased to nine out of 10 women, it has been revealed.

Improved quality of treatment was partly responsible, with more patients taking diagnostic tests and twice as many women having chemotherapy in 2006 compared to a decade earlier, the Queen's University Belfast study showed.

Over 3,000 patients were diagnosed with prostate, breast or colorectal cancer between 1996 and 2006.

Dr Anna Gavin, director of the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, said: "We have excellent facilities at the cancer centre and cancer units and there is now a more joined-up approach to patient care with, for example, the centralisation of breast cancer services in each (health) trust area.

"Another important step forward is that we now have better communications between healthcare professionals and their patients. And alongside this, there is an increased use of multidisciplinary team meetings attended by a range of healthcare staff dealing with patients."

Survival rates for breast cancer patients diagnosed in 2006 improved from 2001 and 1996. The research said 94.3% were alive after one year and 90.6% after two years. In 1996, these figures were 91% and 84.5% respectively.

Dr Gavin added there had been increases in use of radiotherapy and the availability of reconstructive surgery after treatment.

There has been a doubling in the number of patients being treated for prostate cancer in Northern Ireland over the 10 years examined in the report. This is explained by the increased use of diagnostic tests.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said: "This research provides valuable information which is essential in helping us to track progress in identifying those areas where change is still needed. The research highlights the importance of the Cancer Registry at Queen's as a valuable public health tool, which has grown and developed over the last few years and plays a leading role in monitoring cancer care in Northern Ireland.

"It is particularly encouraging that this in-depth research will now be used in a global benchmarking programme which will look at reasons for differences in cancer survival rates across various countries and how to improve these rates and so save lives."


From Belfast Telegraph