Date Published: 27 February 2012
More people surviving leukaemia and pancreatic cancer in Northern Ireland
The first audit of leukaemia treatment and survival in Northern Ireland by the Cancer Registry (NICR) at Queen's University Belfast has shown that survival rates for the disease here are at the highest levels since data collection began in 1993. For children with leukaemia, survival has improved dramatically from under 10% in the 1960 to1970s, to the current level of over 80% for five year survival.
The NICR researchers also examined the changes in service and outcome for patients with pancreatic cancer. The survival rates for pancreatic cancer have been relatively low but the Registry recorded a doubling in survival for patients diagnosed in 2010 compared with 2008 (18% from 9%), which the researchers say could be due to the changes in service provision including centralising the service to one site, the Mater hospital in Belfast.
The leukaemia audit further revealed that while each year approximately twelve children under the age of 14 are diagnosed with acute leukaemia, there are at least 200 people alive in Northern Ireland who were diagnosed as a child, reflecting the improved survival prospects. People diagnosed as children make up 20% of the over 900 people alive here, who at some stage in the past 18 years, have been diagnosed with leukaemia.
Survival for non Hodgkin lymphoma has also improved dramatically from 64% for one year and 45% for five year survival in 1993, to 77% for one year and 58% five year survival in 2008. Hodgkin lymphoma has a higher survival than non Hodgkin and has remained steady since the 1990s at 89% for one year and 79% for five year survival.
Dr Anna Gavin, Director of the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, said:
" Examination of data for pancreatic cancer patients diagnosed in 2010 shows a doubling of survival, a real breakthrough for this disease. If such a survival improvement was seen from a new drug, it would hit the headlines internationally.
_ Today we are documenting and celebrating such improvements in cancer services in Northern Ireland, which have come about since service reorganisation was recommended by the then chief medical officer, Dr Henrietta Campbell. The Northern Ireland Cancer Registry has, with clinicians, been monitoring the care and survival of cancer patents and recommending chance for future service improvements and will continue to do so."
Minister Poots took the opportunity to again congratulate the University on being honoured with a Diamond Jubilee Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education at Buckingham Palace for the work of the Registry and other areas in Queens University. He said:
" I wish to congratulate Queen's University on receiving this prestigious award for a comprehensive cancer centre and I am delighted that patients in Northern Ireland are benefiting from innovative approaches to delivering cancer services.
_ The longstanding partnership between my Department, the Health and Social Care Trusts and Queen's University illustrates the importance of investing in research and development and the contribution that clinical research can make to our health and to our local economy."
Mr Poots said that his Department was proud of the achievements of the University and their health service partner and he was confident that leadership in research is informing improvements in treatment, and to leading clinicians and other health professionals choosing to work in Northern Ireland. The Minister concluded:
" It is a real credit to Northern Ireland to have this recognition and great news for cancer sufferers that they have a greater chance of recovering."
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Source: Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland