Cheshire facing high oesophageal cancer rates

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Cases of oesophageal cancer across Cheshire are 33% higher than the national average, according to data collated by North West Cancer Research.

The charity, which is dedicated to prioritising the cancer needs of people living in the North West and North Wales, has identified a number of concerning trends among the region’s cancer rates as part of a wider report.

The study assessed the impact of 25 key cancers across the North West and 37 cancers across North Wales. Analysts found that, of the cancers included in the project, the North West over-indexed on 16 of them. This included oesophageal cancer, for which the region as a whole has rates 24% higher than the rest of England.

The report illustrates how regional inequalities are putting the residents of these areas at an increased risk of developing cancer. Residents in the North West of England are 25% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than in the rest of the UK.

North West Cancer Research found that cancer rates can vary widely between communities even in the same county. For example, Cheshire West and Chester records the highest cancer rate in the Cheshire area at 16% above the national average, while in Warrington the rate is 3% below the national average.

After oesophagus, the top five cancers most prevalent in Cheshire are:

  • Melanoma: 22% higher than the national average
  • Liver: 20% higher than the national average
  • Bladder: 20% higher than the national average
  • Brain: 15% higher than the national average
  • Lung, trachea and bronchus: 14% higher than the national average

Cancer rates in Cheshire have remained largely static for several years. From 2019 to 2020 the overall rate of cancer worsened by 7% while from 2020 to 2021 the rate of total cancer deaths increased slightly by 3%.

North West Cancer Research continues to investigate the connections between high levels of deprivation and correspondingly high levels of cancer in order to achieve the goal of cancer-free communities.

Alastair Richards, North West Cancer Research CEO, said: “By assessing the cancer challenges in the North West at a granular level, we’ve been able to identify the most acute issues facing the region. Unfortunately, this has also shown that not only is the North West falling well behind the national average in many areas but the static nature of the cancer rates proves that this is an entrenched problem that requires urgent attention.

“In order to improve the situation, it’s clear that we all need to better understand the region’s complex and multifaceted issues which are closely connected with high poverty levels. By highlighting the link between deprivation and cancer rates, we hope to shine a light on how these two factors are intertwined and how they need to be tackled together if either is going to be solved. This clear correlation further showcases the necessity for the government’s pending health inequalities whitepaper to provide the crucial support that our most disadvantaged communities require.

“Cancer as a disease can seem broad, ubiquitous and arbitrary, but in fact many of the challenges it poses are very specific and localised. By better understanding the challenges being faced at a community level, we can spot where further research is needed and identify what evidence-led interventions each location needs.”

The data collected by North West Cancer Research recorded certain cancers that impact women at a higher rate in the North West. This included cervical cancer, with rates 19% above the national average regionally and with Cumbria alone recording rates that are 35% higher. Similarly, ovarian cancer rates are 12% higher compared to England as a whole and rates of breast cancer, which is the most common cancer in the North West, are 4% higher.

Alastair added: “The chance of developing cancer should have nothing to do with where a person lives. To make this statement a reality, we’re committed to supporting research projects and awareness campaigns that will break the link between location and the likelihood of a cancer diagnosis.

“We’ve invested more than £45 million in research projects in the last two decades alone, all of which has been aimed at finding new cures and improving care for anyone in the North West coping with cancer.”

For more information about North West Cancer Research, visit www.nwcr.org, and to read its 2022 North West Regional Report, click here.

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