Cancer atlas shows high incidence of prostate and bowel cancer in Ireland compared to the UK.

The UK Office of National Statistics, in partnership with the Irish National Cancer Registry, the UK regional cancer registries and the vital statistics organisations in Ireland and the UK, has published today an atlas of cancer in Ireland and the UK. The atlas, the first of its kind, gives information on new cases (incidence) and deaths (mortality) for all common cancers for the period 1991 to 2000, by region in Britain and by health board area in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The atlas shows that both incidence and mortality for prostate cancer are higher in Ireland than in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Colorectal (large bowel) cancer rates, for both cases and deaths, are also considerably higher in Ireland and Scotland than elsewhere. By contrast rates of lung cancer (both incidence and mortality) are lower for men in Ireland than in the other countries. For women the rate of new lung cancer cases is also lower than elsewhere, but death rates are close to those in the UK. The rate of incidence of new cases of breast cancer in Ireland and Northern Ireland is lower than in England, Scotland or Wales, but death rates in Ireland are similar to those in the other countries.

Of the less common cancers, the atlas shows a very high rate of cancer of the lip and mouth in the west and north-west of Ireland and in the west of Scotland, which may be related (at least for cancer of the lip) to the sunlight exposure associated with fishing and farming occupations. Melanoma, a form of skin cancer, is also commoner in Ireland and Scotland, but death rates for this cancer are not much different from those in the other countries, suggesting that detection may be more effective in Ireland and Scotland. Death rates from brain cancer for both men and women were significantly higher in Ireland than elsewhere. Very little is known of the causes of brain cancer and there is no apparent explanation for this finding.

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