Wales worst in world

26 Sep 2008

Cancer in Wales 1992-2006: Comprehensive report published

The Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit has unveiled a comprehensive report detailing cancer statistics from 1992 to 2006.

New figures reveal that more people are being diagnosed with cancer in Wales, though more patients are surviving for at least five years than ever before.

Also that, per head of population, Wales has the highest cancer incidence in the world for both men and women.

The incidence of cancer in Wales, increasing year on year for the last 14 years, has been found to be higher than Malta, Estonia and the Ukraine.

The report, published every three years, details cancer incidence, mortality, prevalence and survival for the whole of Wales and individual Local Health Board areas, and draws comparisons with other World countries.

It takes into account all malignancies in Wales during the 15 years covered by the report with the exclusion of non-melanoma skin cancer, which is not always notified to WCISU.

The report reveals that cancer incidence in Wales has increased but the number of patients surviving five years from diagnosis has also increased by almost seven percentage points for males and more than three percentage points for females.

WCISU's figures show that men in Wales have a one in three chance of being diagnosed with cancer before their 75th birthday, in comparison with a two in seven chance for women.

The most common cancer diagnosed in men over the period covered by the report is prostate cancer, with breast cancer coming highest for women.

Survival rates for both cancers have increased significantly, with 92.5 per cent of women now surviving at least one year after breast cancer diagnosis.

Although the equivalent figure for prostate cancer is lower, at 85.3 per cent for the years between 1997 and 2001, this represents an increase of 6.2 percentage points compared with the period between 1992 and 1996. 

Comparative figures with other countries who keep comprehensive figures of cancer incidence show that Wales has a lower rate of cancer than the United Kingdom as a whole for women but a higher rate of cancer than the United Kingdom as a whole for men.

Dr John Steward, Director of WCISU, said: "I am delighted to be able to present  this report, which shows evidence that real progress is being made in developing cancer services  in Wales but that there is more important work still to be done in terms of audit and research. The Cancer Information Framework project will provide additional clinically rich data to permit WCISU to push out the boundaries on that.

"I would like to thank WCISU staff for their hard work and diligence in developing the report, and the clinical colleagues with whom we work closely and who have helped with the analysis and interpretation of cancer data."

Dr Tony Jewell, Wales’ chief medical officer, added: "This data shows how the significant investment in early diagnosis and treatment and our efforts on prevention, including raising awareness of how lifestyle changes can reduce people's risk of developing cancer, is helping improve the outcome for patients. However,there is much more to do to further reduce the incidence of cancer.

Dr Ian Lewis, information officer at Welsh cancer charity Tenovus, commented: “We find these statistics actually quite shocking….. Whilst we are delighted to see that survival rates continue to increase in Wales, however we are dismayed that the survival gap between the most affluent and the most deprived people continues to expand. This is compounded by the fact that the most deprived areas of Wales already tend to have higher rates of largely preventable cancers such as lung and skin.

In July of this year, the health minister Edwina Hart pledged to cut deaths by cancer in Wales by 20% by 2012. Frankly, for her to achieve this in the next 3 ½ years will be a gargantuan task, but she has to start by addressing the issue of increasing incidence, particularly amongst the poorest in Wales and greater investment in early detection and prevention.”




The full report is available online at .