Derry’s deadly cancer mortality laid bare in new cancer registry analysis

People from Derry and Strabane are more likely to die from cancer than their peers elsewhere in the north, according to a new analysis.

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 4:12 pm

Between 2015 and 2019 there were 1,709 cancer deaths in the district - an average of 342 a year. The standardised mortality ratio, a measure that takes account of population size and age structure, in Derry and Strabane was 107.2. The baseline rate for the north was 100. Only Belfast (115.7) had a higher death ratio.

The death rate was higher than the standardised incidence rate of cancer in Derry and Strabane. This was only marginally above the baseline for the north with a value of 101.9. The figures are contained in the Queen’s University Cancer Registry (NICR) official statistics on cancers diagnosed in the north from 2015 to 2019.

The research shows the standardised rate for lung cancer in Derry/Strabane is significantly higher than the average for the north. The lung cancer ratio here was 125.9 - against a base line of 100. Between 2015 and 2019 618 people were diagnosed with lung cancer in Derry/Strabane - an average of 124 per year.

The North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Hospital. DER2126GS - 131

Stomach cancer (117.6), gall bladder and other biliary cancer (117), head and neck cancer (111.3), kidney cancer (110.6), liver cancer (108.2), myeloma and plasma cell neoplasms or, in lay terms, blood and bone marrow cancers (108), colorectal cancer (105.7), bladder cancer (104.9), all cancers excluding non-melanoma skin cancers (103.8), lymphoma (103), unknown primary cancer (101.6) and other malignant cancer (101.4) were all measured as having higher than average incidence rates locally.

The rates for leukaemia (78.8) and melanoma (75.9), however, were significantly lower than the average for the north. Non-melonoma skin cancer (97.1), pancreatic cancer (93.3), brain and central nervous system cancer (92), thyroid cancer (85.7) and oesophogal cancer (79.4) were also less prevalent in Derry and Strabane than the baseline.

Another positive finding is that there are thousands of cancer survivors in Derry/Strabane. According to the NICR 5,371 patients diagnosed with cancer in the 2010-2019 period were alive at the end of 2019, and 7,521 patients diagnosed with cancer in the 1995-2019 period were alive at the end of 2019.

Yet over the last five years the average number of cancer cases (ex. NMSC) per year has increased by 11 per cent across the north as a whole from 8,877 cases in 2010-2014 to 9,861 cases in 2015-2019. These increases are largely due to our ageing population. Cancer incidence rates were 14 per cent higher in the most deprived areas compared to the average for the north and were 4 per cent lower than average in the least deprived areas.

The relationship with deprivation varies by cancer type with incidence of lung cancer, bowel cancer (male only), head & neck cancer, oesophageal cancer, stomach cancer (male only), liver cancer, pancreatic cancer (male only), kidney cancer (female only) and cervical cancer higher than average in the most deprived areas.

Incidence of melanoma and prostate cancer were higher than average in the least deprived areas.