Cancer statistics

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Cancer incidence in Ireland

This year in Ireland an estimated 32,552 people will be diagnosed with an invasive cancer or related tumour. 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

11,660 estimated number of average annual diagnoses

Prostate diagram

2 - Prostate cancer

3,357 estimated number of average annual diagnoses

Breast diagram

3 - Breast cancer

3,100 estimated number of average annual diagnoses

Bowel diagram

4 - Bowel cancer

2,688 estimated number of average annual diagnoses

Lung diagram

5 - Lung cancer

2,502 estimated number of average annual diagnoses

Most common cancers in women

  1. Non-melanoma skin cancer - 4,632 cases
  2. Breast cancer - 3,141 cases
  3. Gynae cancers - 1,161 cases
  4. Lung cancer - 1,157 cases
  5. Bowel cancer - 1,131 cases
  6. Melanoma skin cancer - 562 cases

Most common cancers in men

  1. Non-melanoma skin cancer - 6,184 cases
  2. Prostate cancer - 3,474 cases
  3. Bowel cancer - 1,644 cases
  4. Lung cancer - 1,407 cases
  5. Melanoma skin cancer - 530 cases

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 170,000 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 2016-2018. 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 more than 40,000 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 around 22,641 cases (12,081 men, 10,560 women) were diagnosed annually, representing two-thirds of all registered invasive cases.

As these national estimated figures are not provided on a county-by-county basis, the statistics we use regarding the number of cancer cases per county are derived from online county-incidence maps published by the NCRI, which reflect actual recorded cancers up to 2014, the most recent year that such information is available.

The NCRI report also outlines the estimated number of people living with or beyond cancer as of 31 December, 2016. 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 2010-2014 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.