Report shows similar lung cancer rates for smokers and ex-smokers

Study shows good survival rates for patients diagnosed in early stages at St James’s Hospital

A report released today from St James’s Hospital, Dublin, shows that lung cancer is the highest volume cancer at the centre, but there are good survival rates if patients are diagnosed early.

Thu, Dec 5, 2013, 12:51

Lung cancer rates among current smoker and ex-smoker patients are similar, a new report has shown.

Almost half of male lung cancer patients (45 per cent)at St James’s Hospital, Dublin were ex-smokers while 44 per cent were smokers, the report shows. Less than 10 per cent had never smoked.

The study is a ten year cancer audit report for St James’s Hospital was published today.

The report says lung is the highest volume cancer at the centre and ”by far the largest treatment service” at the hospital. There were 700 new cases at the hospital last year. However it shows that there are good survival rates if patients are diagnosed early.

Of lung cancer patients at early stage one, almost 70 per cent are surviving at five years and 55 per cent at early stage two survive at five years, the report shows. The report says that 47 per cent of lung cancer patients are diagnosed early stage (clinical stage one or two ) and can be treated with the aim of a cure.

Head of surgery Professor John Reynolds said these rates were “fantastic” because popular perception was once someone developed lung cancer it was “hopeless”.

Prof Reynolds said many people who gave up smoking developed lung cancer. “We do know there are many health benefits to giving up smoking....but a large number of ex-smokers here represented a very considerable amount of patients who developed lung cancer,” he said.

The sooner you give them [cigarettes]up the better but the best thing is to never take them up,” Minister for Health Dr James Reilly said today.

It is hoped the report will help doctors to determine survival rates for all cancer types. Prof Reynolds said that all cancer patients want to know if they can be cured and the 5-year survival rates area proxy for this. “The audit data enables us to provide actual rather than inferred outcome for our patients,” he said.

The report finds survival rates for all cancers are “consistent with best international benchmarks”. It finds “excellent” cure rates for breast, prostate and bowel cancer and improving cure rates for oesophageal and lung cancer.

Survival rates measured include skin cancer 87 per cent, breast cancer 80 per cent, ovarian cancer 48 per cent,

The report shows an at least 100 per cent increase in the number of patients managed over the study period for lung, oesophageal and lung cancer.There have also been increases in breast cancer patients (up 35 per cent) and colorectal cancer (45 per cent)

The numbers have gone up party because the numbers of cancers have gone up and but also because St James’s has been designated a centre for several cancers, Dr Susan O’Reilly director of the National Cancer Control Centre said.

Dr O’ Reilly expects the incidents of cancer to increase. Unpublished data from the National Cancer Registry to 2040 shows the incidence of cancer driven by the aging population “continues to rise very steeply and is one of the fastest rising incidences in Europe, she said. “Lifestyle issues around smoking also drive cancerous growth in this country,” she added.

Minister for Health James Reilly said the heads of a bill being brought in on plain packaging today would “protect our children from ever starting smoking”.

Dr Reilly responded to a Eurocare report published today showing people in the Republic diagnosed with some common cancers have a shorter survival time compared with the European average.

He said the report shows that “in absolute numbers that cancer survival rates are improving”. He said there was “anecdotal year on year reports of better survival rates across a range of cancers”.

Dr Reilly pointed out that the data related to 2007 and the result of much work on cancer control would only be seen in five years, such as cervical cancer screening.

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