Recent increases in late stage colorectal cancer and rectal cancer mortality reaffirms the need for a national colorectal cancer screening programme in Ireland

The findings of a new paper recently published in BMC Gastroenterology demonstrate the need for population based colorectal cancer screening in Ireland.

Researchers from the National Cancer Registry and UCC used incidence data from the registry and mortality data from the Central Statistics Office (1994-2010) to conduct a study of colorectal cancer incidence study prior to the introduction of the national colorectal cancer screening programme (BowelScreen). This study sets a benchmark by which the effectiveness of BowelScreen can be measured in future years.

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in Ireland and the second most common cause of cancer related death in men and the third in women. The age standardised rate (ASR) for colorectal cancer was higher in males (63.7 per 100,000) than in females (38.7 per 100,000) in 2010. The number of colorectal cancer cases in Ireland increased significantly from 1752 to 2298 cases between 1994-2010, mainly due to increases in the Irish population. In terms of survival rates, 1 and 5 year relative survival improved for both sexes between 1994-2008. Of concern, however, was the increase in mortality rates for rectal cancer in both sexes over time. In addition, the proportion of cases with late stage (stage III/IV) colon and rectal cancer increased significantly over time.

The study team concluded that their findings on recent colorectal cancer trends in Ireland indicate the need for efficient and timely roll-out of BowelScreen.

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