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Dramatic 20% rise in cancer cases in Northern Ireland

By Victoria O'Hara

There has been a dramatic rise of more than 20% in cancer diagnoses in Northern Ireland, new figures have revealed.

The chance of developing cancer by the age of 75 in Northern Ireland is now one in 3.4 for men and one in 3.8 for women.

The news came as it was announced that 60 specialist cancer care nurses and support workers are to be added to the health service workforce in here over the next five years.

Most of the £11.5m boost for specialist cancer services is to come from charities.

Experts at Queen's University have found that between 2005 and 2014, diagnoses in men increased by 24% from 3,619 to 4,486.

Among women, it had risen from 3,648 to 4,454.

The rise is attributed to an ageing population.

More than 54% of all cancer patients survived five years after diagnosis, while over 70% of patients were alive after 12 months.

But more than 20% died within six months of diagnosis.

Prostate cancer was the most common cancer in men, followed by colorectal and lung cancer.

Breast cancer was the most common in women, with 12% being cases of colorectal cancer and lung cancer.

Charities welcomed the £11.5m investment, which will see clinical nurse specialists (CNS) across all five health trusts and focus on different cancer types.

It is designed to fill gaps in the service which currently results in women diagnosed with breast cancer getting the support of a CNS.

The Health and Social Care Board will invest £2.4m, Macmillan Cancer Support £7m and Friends of the Cancer Centre has pledged a further £2.1m.

The Northern Ireland Cancer Registry report also revealed that cases of cancer were 14% higher in the most deprived communities compared to the regional average and 8% lower in the least deprived communities.

Gerry McElwee of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland said: "The difference in lung cancer incidence is largely due to the noticeably higher smoking prevalence in the most deprived areas (34%) than in the least deprived (12%).

"However, the causes of health inequalities are due to complex interactions of many social, economic and lifestyle factors."

Heather Monteverde of Macmillan Cancer Support NI said: "Macmillan first established clinical nurse specialists in the 1970s and we have been campaigning for 10 years to increase numbers here in Northern Ireland."

Colleen Shaw, chief executive of Friends of the Cancer Centre, said the group was "committed to ensuring that cancer patients in Northern Ireland have access to the best possible care and we see clinical nurse specialists as a vital part in this."

Health Minister Simon Hamilton said: "Clinical nurse specialists work at the front line, providing support during and after treatment. They are the main point of contact for patients and families, play a vital role in the coordination of care, and ensure that patients receive the holistic support they need to meet their clinical and emotional needs.

"This investment will benefit patients directly with more nurses on the ground."

Belfast Telegraph


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