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Press Release

Minister for Health Welcomes Report Showing Increase in Breast Cancer Survival Rates

Published: 7 November 2019
From: Department of Health

Minister for Health Simon Harris has today (Thursday) welcomed the publication of the National Cancer Registry showing a significant increase in the five-year net survival rate for female breast cancer.

The report from the NCRI shows the five-year survival rate has improved by 15% between 1994 and 2015. This represents almost a halving of the five-year mortality risk over this period.

‘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

-40% of cases were in the breast screening age cohort (50-64)

  • the extension of BreastCheck to those aged 65 - 69 is being progressed and will be fully implemented by end 2021
  • although, the number of deaths per year due to breast cancer has remained relatively stable over the period, due to our increasing and aging population, mortality rates showed a consistent downward trend over the past 20+ years

Minister 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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