Press Release

Minister for Health welcomes the fall in cancer incidence and cancer mortality rates

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD today (Tuesday) welcomed the publication of the National Cancer Registry’s Annual Report which provides details of cancer incidence, mortality and survival in Ireland for the period 1994-2015.  He acknowledged the work of the Registry and their contribution to the development of the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026, which was launched by the Minister in July this year.

The report indicates that the rate of cancer per head of population has fallen by 2% annually for men and by 0.1% for women.   However, the overall number of cancers diagnosed continues to rise due to a growing and an aging population.

The National Cancer Registry’s Report also shows that there has been an increase in cancer survival rates in recent years, and overall 5-year cancer survival now stands at 61.1% for all tumour types.

Commenting on the report, Minister Harris said  “I am delighted to see a reduction in the incidence of cancer.  It is also most encouraging to see that survival rates are increasing for many cancers”.

“In recent years, we have focused on improving the quality of cancer care through the reorganisation and expansion of services” continued the Minister.  “We have moved from a fragmented system of care to one that consolidates cancer treatment in larger centres, with multidisciplinary care and decision-making. It is expected that survival rates will increase further due to a combined approach of screening, early detection and improved treatment.”

Minister Harris added “The figures in the report highlight the need for additional support for patients living with and beyond cancer – an issue that is highlighted in the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026.  I am delighted to have secured additional funding for 2018 to facilitate the phased implementation of the Cancer Strategy as a key strategic initiative”.

The report also reinforces the need to promote cancer prevention measures which offer the most cost-effective, long-term approach for cancer control. “My Department and the HSE are continuing to promote healthy lifestyles, through initiatives to reduce tobacco use and through the broader Healthy Ireland programme.”


Notes to the Editor

  • It is estimated that 22,320 invasive cancers (excluding non-fatal non-melanoma skin cancer) were diagnosed annually during 2015-2017;
  • 5-year survival rates have improved from 44.2% (1994-1998) to 61.1% (2010-2014);
  • Survival rates for some cancers are now above 80%, these include: testis cancer (96.3%), prostate cancer (92.1%), skin melanoma (88.7%), and breast cancer (82.9%);
  • Cancer is the second most common cause of death in Ireland, with an average of 8,770 deaths annually;
  • The World Health Organisation estimates that more than 30% of cancer deaths could be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors;
  • Tobacco use is considered to be the single most important risk factor for cancer