Rise in cancer numbers in Wales continues


Latest figures show an increase of 14 per cent over 10 years in the number of new cancer cases in Wales, according to a new report published by Public Health Wales on World Cancer Day.

The increase in cancer numbers in Wales is the result of people living longer, and an increase in many preventable cancers in middle-aged and younger pensioners, especially in women.

The report from the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit (WCISU) demonstrates a clear link between lung cancer and inequality in Wales. The incidence rate in the most deprived areas is around two-and-a-half times the rate in the least deprived areas, and the gap has widened. Lung cancer numbers have increased by an average of 243 extra cases per year in women compared to 10 years previously. Numbers hardly changed in men. Welsh women have one of the highest lung cancer incidence rates in Europe. The report also finds that lung cancer causes more deaths than bowel and breast cancer combined.

WCISU is publishing the most up-to-date data relating to trends in cancer incidence, mortality and survival in Wales for people diagnosed up to the end of 2014.

The report finds that lung, breast, prostate, and bowel cancers remain the most common cancers in Wales, and along with melanoma, they showed the largest increase in numbers over 10 years. Breast cancer has higher rates in the least deprived areas, with the gap decreasing mainly due to increased incidence among women in the most deprived areas. Although less common at the moment, liver cancer rates increased by 65 per cent in men and 42 per cent in women.

Dr Dyfed Wyn Huws, Director of the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, said:

“This new report from the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit at Public Health Wales provides the most up-to-date picture of cancer incidence, survival and mortality in Wales.

““The figures show that the number of new cancer cases in Wales is continuing to rise due to people living longer as well as from some preventable cancers in middle-aged people and younger pensioners, especially women. The report also confirms that lung cancer in particular is linked with inequality, with more deprived areas having much higher rates.

“The effects of preventable risks such as smoking, obesity, drinking alcohol, having a poor diet and physical inactivity are also leading to more cancer and higher rates in younger pensioners, especially women. The good news is that many initiatives today – such as legislation to reduce smoking – will help prevent such cancers in future, and we can do more. However, around six in 10 cases of cancer may not be preventable.”

The new report finds that testicular, prostate and breast cancer and melanoma have the best survival rates. Lung cancer, acute myeloid leukaemia, liver and pancreatic cancers have the lowest survival rates.

Although one-year survival is gradually improving for lung cancer in Wales, it is amongst the lowest compared to many other European countries, along with a number of other smoking-related cancers. Current plans in Wales to improve earlier diagnosis, and increase access to potentially life-saving lung surgery and radiotherapy, are designed to help improve the situation.

The gap in one-year and five-year survival between the least and most deprived areas has widened for bowel cancer.

Public Health Wales produces reports and information to influence national and international policy to ensure it is based on the best evidence to protect and improve health.

More information about the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit (WCISU) is available online (www.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk).

The full report is available here: