Huge disparity in cancer-related deaths amongst deprived Scots

  • Date: 06 December 2022

CANCER-related deaths are 74 per cent higher in the most deprived areas in Scotland compared to the least deprived, a new report has revealed.

Deprivation and cancer inequalities in Scotland found that poorer people are more likely to get cancer and to die from the disease than those in more affluent areas. It estimated that around 4,900 extra cancer cases each year in Scotland are due to deprivation.

The report from the charity Cancer Research UK paints a stark picture of a country where cancer inequalities – described as "unfair, avoidable and systemic differences between population groups" – are present at every stage of the cancer pathway, including the prevalence of cancer risk factors, screening uptake and barriers to seeking help.

The report noted that Scotland has the highest proportion of cancers attributable to preventable risk factors in the UK, with smoking alone responsible for nearly one in five cancer cases. Smoking and excess weight, the two biggest causes of cancer, remain persistently high among Scotland’s more deprived populations, leading to a higher incidence of cancer amongst these groups.

Cancer Research UK Chief Executive Michelle Mitchell OBE called for "bold government action" to reduce inequalities. She welcomed the Scottish Government’s plans to develop a new cancer strategy, which aims to slow the rate of increase in cancer incidence and improve cancer outcomes over the next decade to 2033.

She said: "Now is the time to go further and faster. Deprived populations in Scotland face significant barriers to good health which are creating unacceptable inequalities in cancer incidence and outcomes for patients.

"Cancer Research UK wants to accelerate progress so that three in four people survive their cancer for 10 years or more by 2034. We must ensure that improvements in cancer outcomes are experienced by everyone."

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