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Cancer deaths to cost Ireland €73 billion over the next 20 years

19 October 2016

HRB-funded researchers at the National Cancer Registry Ireland have found that premature deaths from cancer will cost the Irish economy €73 billion between 2011 and 2030.

Graham Love, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board, commented,

'This is a spectacular illustration of how research and evidence can inform decision making in relation to health'.

Dr Alison Pearce and the research team based their calculations on the 233,000 projected deaths from invasive cancer in Ireland that are expected between 2011 and 2030.

They calculated that these deaths will result in lost productivity valued at €73 billion; €13 billion in lost paid work and €60 billion in lost unpaid activities. (This is almost double the lost productivity from cardiovascular disease in Ireland.)

Lung, colorectal and breast cancer were the most expensive cancers overall, because they are the most common. However, when the number of people affected was taken into account, cancers of the testes, cervix and brain were the most expensive because they affect younger people who are often working.

The team estimated that if Ireland could reduce cancer deaths by 1% per year then the economy would save €8.5 billion over 20 years.

The authors suggest that a 1% reduction in cancer deaths could be achieved through improved treatments, reducing smoking rates, and ongoing participation in screening programs for breast, colon, and cervical cancer, as well as the roll out of the HPV vaccine.

The full press release is available from the National Cancer Registry website, and the paper can be read online in the BMC Cancer journal at

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