Cancer study says more people in Wales are surviving

More people are being diagnosed with cancer but more are surviving, says a new in-depth study in Wales.

The Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit (WCISU) details different cancers and survival and mortality rates over 15 years.

The most common cancer in men is prostate, with breast cancer highest for women.

The chief medical officer said Wales's larger ageing population was a factor in the increased incidence.

The report, Cancer in Wales 1995-2009: A Comprehensive Report, gives information about 21 types of cancer.

As well as providing statistics for the whole of Wales and individual local health boards, it draws comparisons with other countries.

It found:

  • Although prostate cancer diagnoses have increased greatly, survival rates are much improved, with 95% of men still being alive one year after diagnosis from 2005 to 2009, compared with a rate of 82% per cent from 1995 to 1999.
  • One-year survival rates for breast cancer have also improved, from 92% from 1995 to 1999, to 96% from 2005 to 2009.
  • Breast cancer accounts for nearly three tenths of female cancers in Wales. Lung cancer was the second most common cancer for both sexes.
  • There have been significant increases in the numbers of malignant melanomas of the skin, although survival from this type of cancer has improved.
  • Men in Wales have a one in three chance of being diagnosed with cancer before their 75th birthday, whereas the chance for women is three in 10.

The report was launched on Tuesday at the Temple of Peace and Health in Cardiff.

WCISU director Dr John Steward said there was evidence of real progress being made in developing cancer services and "improved outcomes" for those diagnosed.

Chief medical officer for Wales Dr Tony Jewell said: "It's welcome news that more and more people are surviving cancer."

Although he was "disappointed at the increase in incidence" he said that Wales had a larger older population than other parts of the UK which meant higher levels of cancer.

"Where cancer does occur, we want people to survive it through prompt access to high quality services that meet their individual needs and enable them to maintain a high quality of life," said Dr Jewell.

He added there was still more to be done in terms of preventing cancer by raising public awareness of risk, "particularly smoking, and encouraging healthy behaviour".

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