Cancer's early detection proves to be a beacon of hope, according to a recent report from the National Cancer Registry (NCRI). The report highlights that cancers, notably skin (melanoma), uterus, and prostate, when diagnosed at an early stage, have nearly 100% five-year survival rates. Established screening programs like BreastCheck, BowelCheck, and CervicalCheck have shown high five-year survival rates when the detection occurs early. However, the specter of late-stage diagnoses still haunts cancers of the head and neck, pancreas, and lung, leading to poorer survival outcomes.
Age Factor and Cancer Survival
The report also underscores a significant correlation between age and cancer survival rates. Individuals aged 75 and over show lower survival rates, with a harsh reality of five-year survival rates plummeting below 15% for several cancer types, including oesophageal, liver, pancreatic, lung, and brain cancers. Prof Deirdre Murray, director of the NCRI, attributes these outcomes to an array of factors such as tumor biology, limited treatment options due to comorbidities, treatment tolerance, physiological reserve, underrepresentation in clinical trials, and, significantly, delayed diagnoses.
Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on Cancer Services
The report notes that the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic on cancer services are diminishing. Diagnoses are now reverting to expected levels after experiencing shortfalls during the pandemic years. This is a crucial development, considering the rise in cancer cases and the expansion of treatments effective in earlier stages of many cancers.
Increased Cancer Survival in Ireland
Moreover, the report highlights a remarkable increase in the number of people living after a cancer diagnosis in Ireland. The figure has surged to nearly 215,000, representing 4.3% of the population. This marks a 50% increase over the past decade, a testament to more diagnoses and improved cancer survival. As the battle against cancer rages on, the emphasis remains on early detection and timely treatment to improve survival rates.