Cancer becomes most common cause of death in Ireland

Leona Kenny

Cancer has overtaken heart disease for the first time as the most common cause of death among Irish people, a new report has shown.

More than 41,000 people were diagnosed with cancer last year, according to the National Cancer Registry. One in five of these cases was non-invasive tumours, and a further one in four was non-melanoma skin cancer, which equates to an average of 112 patients being diagnosed every day.

Tumours and invasive cases can cause an average of 8,875 deaths per year – the equivalent to one person dying from the disease every hour. Breast cancer, prostate cancer and skin cancer were among the most commonly diagnosed.

However, survival rates for cancer are now better than ever before – an estimated 170,000 people are living with cancer in Ireland. New treatments and advanced detection has meant figures for male patients increased significantly from 40 to 62 per cent in the last 20 years, and from 48 to 60 per cent for women in the same period.

The report also showed that the number of people diagnosed with cancer could double in size by 2045 if recent rates apply to the estimated future population.

Chief Executive of the Irish Cancer Society, Averil Power, described the figures as a ‘’wake-up call’’ which should prompt immediate action.

‘’While these projections are stark, they need not become a reality. By improving our lifestyles and availing of free screenings, each of us can dramatically reduce our risk of getting cancer.’’

‘’Four in 10 cancers are preventable. We can all reduce our risk of getting cancer by eating healthily, exercising regularly and limiting our alcohol intake.’’

Ms Power also called on the Government to ensure that the cancer prevention recommendations in the National Cancer Strategy were followed.

More information regarding symptoms, services available and types of cancer can be found on

Leona Kenny

Image Credit: Pixabay