Scottish cancer death rate drops by 11% in 10 years

Death rates from cancer have fallen by 11 per cent over the last decade, although there has been a significant rise in the number of Scots dying from liver cancer.

New South Glasgow Hospitals.Picture: John Devlin

The mortality rate for this form of the disease jumped by 43 per cent between 2004 and 2014, according to official figures.

This is because more people are being diagnosed with liver cancer - which has poor survival rates - with alcohol one of the main risk factors for developing it.

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Cancer claimed the lives of 15,746 people in Scotland last year, with the total including 535 deaths from liver cancer.

While mortality rates for men suffering from all forms of the disease have dropped by 15 per cent over the decade, women have seen a smaller reduction of 6 per cent.

Death rates in the most deprived parts of Scotland are more than two-thirds higher than in the most affluent communities.

Although the overall cancer mortality rate has fallen over the last 10 years, the number of deaths has risen - with this explained by an increase in the number of elderly Scots and the fact cancer is a “relatively common” disease in this age group, according to a new NHS report.

Lung cancer remains the biggest cancer killer with 4,117 deaths - 2,119 males and 1,998 females - in 2014.

Mortality rates among men for this type of cancer have fallen by 21 per cent over the decade but for women there has been a 2 per cent increase.

The death rate for prostate cancer - the most frequently diagnosed form of the disease for men - has decreased by 10.3 per cent over the ten years to 2014.

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in females, with the number of women diagnosed having increased, partly because of better detection through screening.

But the mortality rate has decreased by 20 per cent over the decade, with this said to be a consequence of both screening and advances in treatment.

Gregor McNie, senior public affairs manager for Cancer Research UK in Scotland, said: “These figures show cancer death rates are falling which, thanks to research, reflects that treatments are more effective. A cancer diagnosis is no longer the death sentence it was once feared to be.

“These new statistics also show the number of deaths from cancer is increasing and this is because people are living longer and so are more likely to get cancer.

“Diagnosing cancer earlier is also one of the most powerful ways to beat it. The chances of successful treatment are higher if the disease is found at an early stage.

“Cancer Research UK believes that no-one should be diagnosed too late to have treatment that might save their life.”