The number of cases of cancer could double by 2045, if current rates continue into the future, according to a new report from the National Cancer Registry.
However, it said that the overall increase could be a more modest 50% in both sexes, if recent trends, including declines, in some cancers continue.
For all cancers combined (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer), the projections are for a doubling of numbers overall to 43,000.
This means an 111% increase for males and an 80% increase for females between 2015 and 2045.
This projection assumes that average rates of cancer during 2011-2015 apply in the future and that changes in numbers of cases are due only to changes in population size and age.
Professor Kerri Clough-Gorr, Director of the National Cancer Registry and Professor of Cancer Epidemiology at University College Cork, said that population growth and ageing will result in substantial increases in numbers of cancers diagnosed in Ireland over the coming decades, with resultant increases in the demands on cancer healthcare services.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Professor Clough-Gorr said that lung cancer continues to be a “cancer of concern”.
Breast cancer cases could, she said, see increases of up to 63% by 2045.
There are also are large projected increases in liver and gallbladder cancers.
“We need to be looking at what are the underlying risk factors and looking at ways to screen and put in place public health measures for cancers that are projected to be problematic over the next couple of decades,” said Professor Clough-Gorr.
“And because we capture the complete population picture, this information should be used to guide policy and planning into the future.”
This is the fourth set of projections produced by the NCR following on from reports in 2006, 2008 and 2014, aimed at ensuring that up to date estimates are available to allow for future planning of cancer services in Ireland.
In response to the NCR report, Irish Cancer Society chief executive Averil Power said that existing cancer services were buckling under current pressure and that the Government needed to make investment now to meet the huge surge in demand of the future.
The society said the NCRI report showed that demand for surgery will increase by almost 8,000 patients a year, demand for radiotherapy will increase by 5,500 patients a year and demand for chemotherapy will increase by 4,500 patients a year.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime, Ms Power said it was a wake up call for the Government who must take steps now to make sure we have capacity to cater for a greater number of cancer patients.
She also said that more people than ever are surviving cancer, which creates further challenges.
Ms Power said the Government must plan to provide for the emotional, physical and financial needs of cancer survivors.
She added that the figures are a projection and it is within everyone’s own power to reduce their cancer risk.
Ms Power said this requires Government investment in cancer prevention in order to help people to have better health behaviours.