Cases of stomach cancer across Cumbria are 72% higher than the national average,
according to data collated by North West Cancer Research. This is the highest prevalence
rate of any county in the North West.
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 stomach cancer, for which the region as a
whole has rates 20% 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, South Lakeland records the highest cancer rate in
Cumbria at 35% above the national average, while in Carlisle the rate is 8% above the
After stomach cancer, the top five cancers most prevalent in Cumbria are:
Oesophagus: 54% higher than the national average
Colorectal: 37% higher than the national average
Cervix uteri: 35% higher than the national average
Melanoma: 27% higher than the national average
Uterus: 26% higher than the national average
Cancer rates in Cumbria, which has 3% higher deprivation level than the national average,
have remained largely static for several years. From 2019 to 2020 the overall rate of cancer worsened by 6% while from 2020 to 2021 the rate of total cancer deaths decreased slightly by 4%.
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
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.