Cases of oesophageal cancer across Lancashire are 33% above 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 as part of its 2023 regional report.
Four of the five counties in the North West indexed at an above average incidence rate for oesophageal cancer, with Lancashire recording the second highest level behind only Liverpool, which is 34% higher than the rest of the country.
The study assessed the impact of 19 key cancers across the North West, of which the region was found to have over-indexed on 15. Residents in the North West of England are 25% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than in the rest of the UK. This included oesophageal cancer, for which the region as a whole has rates 24% higher than the rest of England.
After oesophageal cancer, the top five cancers most prevalent in Lancashire are:
- Cervix uteri: 32% higher than the national average
- Liver: 28% higher than the national average
- Lung, trachea, and bronchus: 20% higher than the national average
- Uterus: 18% higher than the national average
- Ovarian: 17% higher than the national average
The overall incidence rates for cancer in Lancashire and the North West have remained above the national average every year since North West Cancer Research’s inaugural regional report in 2020.
The research links the disproportionate and static cancer rates with significant levels of inequality in the area. North West Cancer Research’s report shows that communities in the North West face significantly higher rates of deprivation than the rest of the country, with Lancashire being more deprived than the national average.
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: “Lancashire is a place unlike any other, with world-leading people, places, culture, and creativity around every corner. Sadly, its cancer landscape is also markedly distinct, with communities here facing a number of serious challenges which require urgent, localised attention.
“By annually assessing the cancer challenges in Lancashire and across the North West at a granular level, we’ve been able to identify the most acute issues facing the region. This has highlighted that not only is Lancashire well behind the national average in many areas, but its cancer rates are remaining stubbornly static.
“This strongly suggests that Lancashire, and the North West as a whole, is facing an entrenched problem. To resolve this, we must better understand the region’s complex and multifaceted issues which are closely connected with high levels of deprivation. This clear correlation highlights the fact that more targeted, community-level support is needed which addresses both the societal as well as medical aspects of cancer.”
The role that socio-economic factors play in Lancashire’s health expectations is highlighted in the report by data that indicates it is ‘lifestyle related’ cancers – lung, liver, kidney, stomach, and skin – that show the most alarming regional disparities.
Alastair added: “The prospect of being diagnosed with cancer should not be connected to a person’s postcode. This is why we’re committed to supporting research projects and awareness campaigns that break the link between where someone lives and their likelihood of developing cancer.
“Many of the challenges cancer poses are very specific and localised. Understanding how it’s affecting people at a community level is an important part of identifying where further research is needed and what evidence-led interventions a location needs.”
Since 2000, North West Cancer Research has invested more than £45 million in research projects to find new cures and improve care for anyone in the North West coping with cancer as well as preventative awareness campaigns that address cancer inequalities.