Breast Cancer Survival Rates Improve By 15% Over 20 Years

The Minister for Health has welcomed figures from the National Cancer Registry that show a significant increase in the five-year net survival rate for female breast cancer.

The report from the NCRI shows the rate has improved by 15% between 1994 and 2015.

While the number of deaths per year due to breast cancer have remained relatively stable over the period, the increasing and aging population has caused a consistent downward trend in mortality rates over the past 20+ years.

'Cancer Trends Report on Breast Cancer' looks at trends in breast cancer incidence, stage at diagnosis, mortality and survival for the period 1994-2016.

The Report shows:

• 62,052 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed from 1994-2016 (61,617 female and 435 males)

• increasingly breast cancer is being diagnosed at an earlier stage. The percentage of Stage I cases increased from 21% in 1994-1999 to 33% in 2008-2015

• the report demonstrates the influence of the BreastCheck programme.

The median age at diagnosis was 59 years, with 40% emerging in the breast screening age cohort of 50-64.

The Department of Health said the extension of BreastCheck to those aged 65 - 69 is being progressed and will be fully implemented by the end of 2021.

Minister Simon Harris said: "I welcome the improvement in survival rates for breast cancer.

"It is heartening to see the increase in early diagnoses leading to better outcomes. Increasing awareness of breast cancer, and strong uptake of BreastCheck, will further improve survival rates.

"This is a result of targeted investment by successive Governments. Next year, we will continue to invest in the National Cancer Strategy and will increase eligibility for BreastCheck by the end of next year.

"I strongly encourage all eligible women to participate in this free service. It saves lives and today's report confirms that."

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