LANCET: Cancer survival in high income countries (including Ireland) is improving, but international disparities persist

Posted on: 12 Sep 2019

LANCET: Cancer survival in high income countries (including Ireland) is improving, but international disparities persist

A study by the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership (ICBP), published in Lancet Oncology, looked at 3.9 million cancer cases between 1995 and 2014, in seven comparable countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and the UK. 

This is the first international study looking at variations in incidence, survival and mortality for 7 cancer sites: lung, ovarian, stomach, colon, rectal, oesophageal and pancreatic.

There is encouraging news for Ireland, especially for some of cancers which have been more difficult to treat.

  • Overall 5 year survival has increased for each of these 7 cancers in Ireland.
  • Ireland has the 5th highest 1 year survival rate for the seven cancers investigated (with the exception of Ovarian cancer).
  • The 5 year net survival for colon and rectal cancer in Ireland was the second lowest of the countries (2010-14)  

  • During 2010 to 2014, Ireland had the second highest 1-year net survival for two of the cancers which have been more difficult to treat – pancreatic and oesophageal cancers.

  • In fact, Ireland had the largest improvement in survival for both oesophageal and stomach cancer, and the second largest improvement in survival for both lung and rectal cancer across the seven countries.

However, there is still work to do. 

  • The 5-year net survival for Ovarian cancer in Ireland, while improving by more than 8% during this period, was the lowest of these seven countries.
  • There were also difference in survival by age with survival lower for patients in the older age group (75+ years) compared to younger patients.

“Earlier diagnosis, improved treatment and other policy reforms have ensured improved pathways for patients to diagnosis and treatment and have all likely contributed to improved outcomes,” say the authors.

"There is reason for optimism, survival across all 7 cancer types has improved here in Ireland.  However, it is still far too low and to accelerate these improvements in cancer survival, continued investment into research to develop new treatments, particularly for the poorer prognosis cancers is required." said Orla Dolan CEO Breakthrough Cancer Research.

For more information: 

ICBP/NCRI Summary Briefing

The Lancet. "Cancer survival in high income countries is improving, but international disparities persist." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 September 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190911165214.htm>.

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