Cancer statistics

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Cancer incidence in Ireland

Almost 45,000 people in Ireland get cancer each year. This figure is comprised of both invasive and non-invasive tumours, as well as non-melanoma skin cancers.

It is estimated almost 25,000 invasive cases (13,152 men, 11,641 women) will be diagnosed. This excludes non-melanoma skin cancers.

Incidence of cancer in Ireland is growing, but more people are surviving cancer than ever before.


Every 3 minutes in Ireland someone gets a cancer diagnosis. Every hour someone dies from cancer.

The most common cancers diagnosed in Ireland are

Skin with melanoma diagram

1 - Skin cancer

13,311 estimated number of average annual diagnoses

  • Melanoma skin cancer 1,197
  • Non-melanoma skin cancer 12,114
Prostate diagram

2 - Prostate cancer

3,890 estimated number of average annual diagnoses

Breast diagram

3 - Breast cancer

3,704 estimated number of average annual diagnoses

Bowel diagram

4 - Bowel cancer

2,819 estimated number of average annual diagnoses

Lung diagram

5 - Lung cancer

2,753 estimated number of average annual diagnoses

The most common cancers in Ireland for both men and women

  • Prostate cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal (bowel) cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Melanoma skin cancer
  • Non Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Uterine cancer

Common cancers that affect women and cancers specific to women

  • Breast
  • Lung
  • Bowel
  • Melanoma
  • Ovarian
  • Cervical
  • Womb
  • Vaginal
  • Vulval

Common cancers that affect men and cancers specific to men

  • Prostate
  • Bowel
  • Lung
  • Melanoma
  • Testicular
  • Penile
  • Mouth, Head & Neck

Cancer in children and young adults is very rare, these are the more common types

  • Leukaemia
  • Brain tumour
  • Sarcoma. Cancer affecting muscles (soft tissue sarcoma) or bone (bone sarcoma). 
  • Germ cell tumour. Cancer that affects the cells that make eggs (in a girl’s ovaries) or sperm (in a boy’s testicles).
  • Lymphoma
  • Liver cancer
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Wilms’ tumour (kidney)

Blood cancers include

  • Leukaemia
  • Lymphomas
  • Myeloma
  • MDS

Gynaecological cancers include

  • Ovarian
  • Cervical
  • Vaginal
  • Vulval
  • Uterine / Womb / Endometrial

Mouth, head & neck cancers include

  • Mouth (oral) cancers: Lips, tongue, gums, cheeks, roof of your mouth (the hard palate) or the floor of your mouth (under your tongue).
  • Oropharyngeal cancers: The soft part of the roof of your mouth, the back and side walls of your throat and the base of your tongue.
  • Cancer of the nose: Nasopharynx, nostrils or the lining of your nose, the bones around your face or in your sinuses. The nasopharynx is the area where your throat joins your nose.
  • Cancer of the ear
  • Cancer of the salivary glands
  • Cancer of the eye
  • Cancer of the larynx
  • Cancer of the thyroid

Rare cancers

A cancer is considered rare if the incidence is equal to or less than 6 new cases per 100,000 persons in one year

Cancer mortality in Ireland

1 in 4 deaths in Ireland is caused by cancer. 

  • Cancer is the biggest killer in Ireland.
  • It accounts for approximately 30% of deaths every year.
  • One person dies from cancer every hour in Ireland.
  • Over 9,000 deaths every year are from cancer.

Cancer survival

There are more than 190,000 people living with and beyond cancer today in Ireland. But survival rates for individual cancers vary hugely.

For example, while 9 out of 10 prostate cancer patients will survive for five years or more, just 2 in 10 lung cancer patients will be as lucky.

Cancer prevention

We now know that 4 out of 10 cancers can be prevented. By not smoking, eating healthily, watching our weight and alcohol intake and exercising we are taking a big step in lowering our risk of cancer.

Learn more about how you can reduce your risk of cancer.

Cancer and smoking

Smoking is the single biggest cause of cancer, causing one third of all cancers.

  • 9 out of 10 lung cancers are caused by smoking.
  • Cigarettes contain over 4,000 chemicals, 60 of which are known to cause cancer.
  • Half of all smokers will die from a tobacco-related disease.

How we source our cancer statistics

The National Cancer Registry, Ireland (NCRI) records information on all cancer cases occurring in Ireland.

Each year the NCRI publishes its annual report which gives updated information on the number of cancers diagnosed in Ireland as well as the number of cancer survivors and survival rates.

The NCRI's most recent report provides estimated annual incidence figures for each main cancer type on a national scale for the period 2018-2020. It is these figures which you will find in the cancer information pages on, as well as in our press releases and news webpages.

More information

Current estimates state that almost 45,000 people in Ireland get cancer each year. This figure is comprised of both invasive and non-invasive tumours, as well as non-melanoma skin cancers.

For all invasive cancers excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, the figures most often quoted in international comparisons, the NCRI estimates that almost 25,000 cases (13,152 men, 11,641 women) were diagnosed annually, representing two-thirds of all registered invasive cases.

These figures were estimated using rates during 2016-2018, taking account of population growth and ageing by 2020, and are subject to possible adjustment once fuller information is available on 2019 and 2020 cases.

The NCRI report also outlines the estimated number of people living with or beyond cancer at the end of 2018. The Irish Cancer Society classifies these numbers as cancer survivors on our website and in press materials.

Five-year cancer survival rates – the percentage of people who survive for at least five years after their cancer diagnosis – are also collated by the NCRI and used by the Irish Cancer Society in our public content. The most up-to-date survival rates available per cancer type refer to the years 2012-2016 and is an estimate for invasive cancers annually over those years.

Information on the number of deaths in Ireland caused by cancer is sourced from the Central Statistics Office.