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Lung cancer kills three a day in Northern Ireland

Experts urge better patient care as shock figures reveal mortality rate

By Victoria O'Hara

Urgent action must be taken by the Assembly to improve care of lung cancer patients, UK experts have said, as shocking figures show three people die here every day from Northern Ireland's biggest killer from the disease.

A report by the United Kingdom Lung Cancer Coalition (UKLCC) comparing treatment over the last decade for lung cancer shows that in 2005, over 800 people died. By 2013, the figure rose to 940 - almost a quarter of all cancer-related deaths.

There has, however, been a 4.3% increase in one-year survival rates and improvements in five year survival numbers.

But a study across 29 different countries showed five-year survival rates were poorer in Northern Ireland, and across the UK, than the rest of Europe.

'Ten years on: The Changing Landscape of the UK's Biggest Cancer Killer' is the first UK report to assess progress in lung cancer services.

It showed that fewer men in the province have died from the cancer, with the male mortality rate per 100,000 of the population down from 120 in 1993 to 86 in 2013.

But the death rate for females has risen from 42 to 48 per 100,000. The report says more efforts were needed to ensure early diagnosis and more efforts were needed to reduce smoking habits.

The findings of the UKLCC report concluded that "more can and needs to be done to help improve the delivery and effectiveness of cancer services across the country".

Dr Wendy Anderson, a senior figure in lung cancer care in Northern Ireland, and Northern Ireland Lung Cancer co-lead for UKLCC, said: "While there has been a small increase in one-year survival rates across Northern Ireland, five year survival rates compare poorly with other major cancers and lag seriously behind our European counterparts,

"Put simply, ten years on we are not where we should be."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said that adult smoking prevalence in Northern Ireland has dropped to 22%, from 24%, in 2013.

"The Department published a ten-year tobacco control strategy for Northern Ireland in February 2012, and also invests significant funding in specialist smoking cessation services," she said.

"There are now over 600 services provided in a range of settings throughout Northern Ireland and in 2014/15, they helped almost 22,000 smokers to set a quit date."

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