Poorest most likely to die from cancer, government figures show
Statistics from ISD Scotland show people in deprived communities are 74 per cent more likely to die from cancer
Poor people continue to be far more likely to die from cancer than the well-off, Scottish Government figures show.
Statistics from ISD Scotland for 2014-18 show that the mortality rate for people living in the most deprived areas is 74 per cent higher compared with the least deprived.
Those in poorer communities are also 32 per cent more likely to develop the condition in the first place, for reasons that are described as “complex”.
The figures show the “overall risk” of dying from cancer has decreased by 10 per cent over the past decade.
Although more people died from cancer in 2018, a total of 16,200, this is explained by an increase in the number of elderly people, who are more likely to develop cancer.
Once calculations are adjusted to take account of the ageing population, the mortality rate is found to be steadily decreasing.
But certain forms of cancer remain deadly, while others are increasing.
Lung cancer is the most common cause of death among cancer suffers overall, followed by colorectal cancer.
For women, the risk of dying from liver and womb cancers has increased by 67 per cent and 39 per cent, respectively.
In men over the past ten years the risk of dying from liver cancer has increased by 55 per cent.
Gordon McLean from Macmillan Cancer Support said: “While it’s good news more people are surviving cancer for longer, it’s very concerning to see death rates in deprived communities continue to be so much higher.
“We need to understand the complex factors behind this and see action taken urgently to combat it. This must include having the right workforce in place to get people diagnosed as early as possible, as well as to ensure the right support is available for people during and after treatment.”
“People in deprived communities are more likely to get cancer, more likely to die from it, and even those who survive are more likely to struggle with a multitude of long-term problems.
“It’s clearer than ever before that one blanket approach to detection, treatment and care won’t work for everyone. We need a system that can cope with the growing numbers of people with cancer, while meeting their individual needs.
“The Scottish Government has committed to publishing a workforce plan and we hope to see it soon. It’s vital that it’s accompanied by a fully-costed implementation plan that clearly sets out how the cancer care system will meet the current challenges, as well as those we know are coming."
Gordon Matheson, Cancer Research UK’s public affairs manager in Scotland, said: “Too many families are losing loved ones to cancer, a disease that kills more people in Scotland than any other.
“Over the past 40 years our researchers have made great progress in the fight against cancer but it’s clear much more needs to be done.
“For many common cancers, survival triples when diagnosed at an early stage so it’s essential people with suspected cancer are given the best possible chance of an early diagnosis.
“Staff shortages are harming the NHS’s ability to diagnose cancer at an early stage. The Scottish Government needs to tackle this problem urgently and plan to ensure there are enough key cancer staff now and in the future.”
Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, Monica Lennon MSP, said: “These shocking health inequalities shame a nation as wealthy as ours, and sadly SNP ministers have not taken this seriously enough. In government, this would be a priority for Scottish Labour.”
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “It is encouraging that the figures in this latest report show the continued downward trend in cancer mortality rates, however we recognise that more still needs to be done.
“Our £42 million Detect Cancer Early Programme aims to increase the proportion of breast, bowel and lung cancers detected at an early stage.
“The Programme also aims to reduce the inequality gap as those from more deprived areas are less likely to take part in screening and more likely to present at a later stage, when the chance of survival is lower.
“Our most deprived communities have seen the largest increase in people diagnosed at the earliest stage of bowel, breast and lung cancers since DCE began – an 11.8% increase. For lung cancer specifically, there’s been a 38.1% increase in stage one diagnoses in the most deprived areas.
“Screening remains one of the most effective ways to find cancer early and more than £2.7 million has been committed to Health Boards and third sector organisations since 2016, through the Scottish Government’s Health Inequalities Fund.”