Cancer deaths higher in Greater Manchester compared to rest of UK

February 6, 2014 by Jane Bullock, University of Manchester

Every day 18 people die from cancer in Greater Manchester – around 6,500 a year – making the death toll around 10 per cent higher than the UK average, according to the latest figures published by Cancer Research UK - part of Manchester Cancer Research Centre - today (Wednesday).

The main reason for the higher death rates is that that people in Greater Manchester are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer compared to the UK average, with rates of cancer cases also around 10 per cent higher.* This is likely to be partly due to higher numbers smoking in the city, smoking rates are around seven per cent higher than the national average.

Smoking causes more than eight in 10 lung cancer cases and overall two in 10 of all cancer cases.

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in Greater Manchester, with around 930 men and 790 women dying from the disease every year in the area.

Bowel and breast cancers are the next biggest cancer killers – around 320 men and 270 women die from in the city every year. And 420 women die from in Greater Manchester every year.

But, the good news is, survival rates from cancer continue to improve. Even though more people are getting cancer, thanks to better treatments and earlier diagnosis more people are surviving the disease than ever before.

Across Greater Manchester, each year around 1,100 men and 970 women are diagnosed with lung cancer. Around 1,900 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and 850 men and 670 women are diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Allan Jordan, who is Head of Chemistry at the Drug Discovery Unit at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, part of The University of Manchester, said: "It's extremely worrying to see that you're more likely to die from cancer if you live in Manchester compared to other parts of the country. The latest stats show that lung cancer causes the most deaths from the disease in Greater Manchester. We must do more to tackle this by helping to reduce the number of people smoking as well as improving treatments, and diagnosing the disease earlier, when treatment is most likely to be effective."

"A major focus of the new Manchester Cancer Research Centre (MCRC) building will be finding new, personalised treatments for many types of cancers, and is a critical area of research for us. Our ambition is to be able to tailor treatments to the individual, targeting specific faults in their tumour and reducing side-effects of treatment."

The Manchester Cancer Research Centre (MCRC), which is being built in Withington, is being funded by Cancer Research UK, The University of Manchester and The Christie. All three organisations have worked closely together under the umbrella of "Manchester Cancer Research Centre" since 2006, but the new building, which is due for completion this summer, will provide an opportunity to work collaboratively under the same roof.

The "More Tomorrows" fundraising campaign will raise the remaining £5million needed to complete the new research centre, which will be the largest of its kind in Europe.

Nell Barrie, Senior Science Information Manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "These figures are a stark reminder that we must do more to ensure no-one dies prematurely of cancer. It's only through research that we will be able to beat cancer. We need to do more work to understand what drives the disease and how we can prevent it, as well as developing new treatments to reduce the number of people who die from it."

Allan Jordan added: "While the actual statistics are troubling, we must not lose sight of the fact that the numbers themselves are comprised of many individuals and their families, suffering from the effects of , who urgently need access to better treatments. At Cancer Research UK, we will continue to invest in research until we have delivered better diagnoses, better treatments and, ultimately, better quality of life for each one of them."

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