A report on the prevalence of cancer in Northern Ireland’s 11 new supercouncil areas has shown a significantly higher than average incidence of melanoma and uterine cancer across Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon.
Moreover, Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon was the only one of the 11 new authorities that did not exhibit lower than average incidence rates of at least one type of cancer.
In Lisburn and Castlereagh, for instance, statistics covering 2008-2012 indicated a significantly higher incidence rate of leukaemia but a significantly lower incidence of colorectal, lung, prostate, head and neck cancers and cancers of unknown primary.
Compiled by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry in anticipation of April’s move from 26 to 11 local government districts, the report looks at the number of people living with cancer, new cancer cases and deaths in each of the combined areas during the four-year period in question.
At the end of 2012, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, some 5,621 people - 2,514 male and 3,107 female - were living with cancer across Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon, a total second only to Belfast, with 9,100.
The annual average number of cancer deaths in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon from 2008-2012 is reported as 411 - 213 male and 198 female - again second only to Belfast, with 877.
A Northern Ireland Cancer Registry spokesperson said: “The new report allows us to see where in Northern Ireland cancer cases occur.
“The variation reflects the size and age structure of the different areas, with the lowest average numbers of cases in Fermanagh and Omagh LGD (713) to 2,271 in Belfast.
“Adjusting for differences in age and population size the level of cancers in the Belfast LGD was 7.7% higher than the NI average while lower than average rates were seen in the LGD areas of Causeway coast and Glens (3.6%), Fermanagh and Omagh (4.1%), Lisburn and Castlereagh (6.5%), North Down and Ards (3.7%).
“This geographical variation is strongly related to lifestyle factors eg smoking, diet and exercise which in turn are linked with socioeconomic factors.
However, other factors, such as PSA testing, which increase levels of detected prostate cancer and genetic factors may have an impact.
Information on risk factors associated with cancer is not yet available for the new Local Government Districts. Further details on risks and protective factors for each of the main cancers can be found on the Cancer Research UK website.