Hamilton welcomes improved cancer survival rates in Northern Ireland

Date published: 22 March 2016


Health Minister Simon Hamilton has welcomed the publication of figures which show that more people are surviving cancer for longer in Northern Ireland.


The Minister was commenting on the latest statistics published by the Queen's University Northern Ireland Cancer Registry (NICR) on the incidence and survival rates for cancer in Northern Ireland. The figures show that over 54% of all cancer patients survived five years after diagnosis for patients diagnosed between 2004 to 2008; this shows an improvement compared to patients diagnosed in the period 1993 to 1999 and this trend is expected to continue in the period 2010 to 2014.

Minister Hamilton said: “I am pleased to see that the most recent figures indicate continued improvement in survival for the commonest cancers and that further improvement is expected.

“It is particularly encouraging to see a marked improvement in colorectal cancer one-year survival, which demonstrates the success of the bowel screening programme, introduced in 2012 in Northern Ireland, which has seen an increase in patients diagnosed with early stage disease.

“I welcome this report by the NI Cancer registry. Provision of accurate data is invaluable as it helps to inform future developments, identify points of pressure and ultimately meet the challenge of cancer.

“I am grateful for all the hard work of all those HSC staff involved in cancer care, whose dedication has contributed to these improved outcomes for patients; I look forward to seeing continued progress.”

The NICR figures showed that while we have seen better survival rates in recent years, there has been an increasing incidence of cancer. Over the ten years from 2005 to 2014, the number of cancer cases has increased by 24% among men and by 22% in women. The NI Cancer Registry has said these increases are largely due to our aging population.

Simon Hamilton said: “We must not be complacent and I am committed to continuing to invest in cancer service provision. Significant resource has been allocated to support cancer services including almost £10million being invested to improve diagnostics which will also deliver benefits in the cancer pathway, allowing for faster progress through the red flag pathway.

“Plans are also in place to increase the provision of best practice diagnostic tests, such as CT colonography, endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS), as well as increasing the provision of MRI and CT across the region which are key tools in many pathways for the diagnosis of cancer.

“These developments and others including the opening later this year of additional capacity at the £66million Radiotherapy Unit at Altnagelvin Hospital and the recent commencement of acute oncology services, will improve both the quality of care and speed of access for patients right across Northern Ireland.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The statistics were published by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry.
  2. Media enquiries about this press release to DHSSPS Press Office on 9052 0074, or out of hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt

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