Cancer rates higher in England’s most deprived areas, NHS data shows

Data, published for first time, found cancer diagnoses were 16 per cent higher in most deprived areas

Lamiat Sabin
Thursday 21 October 2021 18:30
<p>Overall, more men than women were diagnosed with cancer in England in 2019 </p>

Overall, more men than women were diagnosed with cancer in England in 2019

People living in more deprived areas have higher rates of cancer diagnoses compared to those living in more affluent places, a new report has found.

For the first time, an NHS report lists the numbers of cancer diagnoses made in 2019 within different socio-economic groups.

It found that the number of overall cancer diagnoses was at least 16 per cent higher in the 20 per cent most deprived areas than that of the 20 per cent most wealthy areas.

But researchers also found that the reverse was sometimes true when it came to several types of cancer.

The breast cancer rate in women was 14 per cent higher among the fifth most affluent areas compared to the fifth most deprived areas – 179 cases per 100,000 people compared to 157 per 100,000 people.

This was also found in rates of prostate cancer, non-melanoma skin cancers, and malignant melanomas.

The Cancer Registrations England 2019 report from NHS Digital breaks down the data by geography, sex, age groups, and stage of diagnosis.

Despite cancer being more common in the poorest areas overall, men in the richest areas had more cancer cases among them than women living in the most deprived areas (649 per 100,000 for the men and 621 per 100,000 for the women).

Prostate cancer continued to be the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men (28 per cent of all male diagnoses), and breast cancer continued to be the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women (28 per cent of all female diagnoses).

Women had more incidences of cancer than boys and men between the ages of 15 and 59 years, but then men were found to have had higher incidence rates than women when aged 60 and above.

In 2019, the four most common cancers – prostate, breast, colorectal and lung – accounted for 53 per cent of all diagnoses.

Men received more diagnoses (169,599 ) than women (157,575) in 2019. The total annual number of diagnoses increased from the previous year from 323,450 to 327,174.

An average of 896 new cases of malignant cancers were diagnosed per day that year.

The report comes as the NHS is catching up on backlogs, as well as offering treatment to all people whose appointments were delayed by the Covid pandemic.

Health chiefs declared in July that all cancer appointment and treatment backlogs would be cleared by March 2022.

But think tank IPPR warned last month that it could take a decade to clear the backlog unless there is more funding for NHS equipment and staff.

The IPPR’s report stated that – during the pandemic – there was a 37 per cent drop in endoscopies, a 25 per cent drop in MRI scans, and a 10 per cent drop in CT scans than expected.

The report measures cancer incidence by Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD), which is the official measure of relative deprivation for small areas in England.

The index takes into account income, employment, education, health, crime, barriers to housing and services, and living environment.

Earlier this month, NHS Digital took over the running of a national database dedicated to gathering information on patients being treated for cancer and other diseases.

The National Disease Registration Service was formerly managed by the newly-defunct Public Health England.

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