Cancer incidence in Ireland
An estimated 44,000 people in Ireland get cancer each year. This figure is comprised of both invasive (cancers that can spread beyond the place they originated) and non-invasive tumours (cancers that do not spread). It includes non-melanoma skin cancers (the most common type of cancer in Ireland).
The most recent research available shows that there are now more than 24,000 invasive cases (13,027 men, 11,299 women) diagnosed each year. This does not includes non-invasive cancers like non-melanoma skin cancers.
The most recent report from the National Cancer Registry of Ireland indicates that the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a 10% reduction in cancer diagnoses, compared to what was expected.*
More people are surviving cancer than ever before.
The most common cancers diagnosed in Ireland are
1 - Skin cancer
12,668 estimated number of average annual diagnoses
- Melanoma skin cancer 1,170
- Non-melanoma skin cancer 11,498
2 - Prostate cancer
3,941 estimated number of average annual diagnoses
3 - Breast cancer
3,392 estimated number of average annual diagnoses
4 - Bowel cancer
2,562 estimated number of average annual diagnoses
5 - Lung cancer
2,672 estimated number of average annual diagnoses
The most common cancers in Ireland for both men and women
- Prostate cancer
- Breast cancer
- Lung cancer
- Colorectal (bowel) cancer
- Melanoma skin cancer
Common cancers that affect women and cancers specific to women
- Womb (Uterine)
Common cancers that affect men and cancers specific to men
- Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Cancer in children and young adults is very rare. These are the more common types:
- 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).
A cancer is considered rare if the incidence is equal to or less than 6 new cases per 100,000 persons in one year
Sometimes, cancers are grouped together by the area of the body where they typically appear. This is usually just to make it easier to talk about them, or to help improve public awareness.
Some commonly used "groups" of cancer are as follows.
Blood cancers include
Gynaecological cancers include
- 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
Cancer mortality in Ireland
Cancer is the biggest killer in Ireland.
- It accounts for approximately 30% of deaths every year.
- Over 9,750 deaths every year are from cancer.
Cancer survival in Ireland
207,000 cancer patients or former cancer patients were alive in Ireland at the end of 2020, but survival rates for individual cancers vary hugely.
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 7,000 chemicals: many of them are toxic, and 69 of them 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 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 cancer.ie, as well as in our press releases and news webpages.
Current estimates state that almost 43,500 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 more than 24,000 cases (13,027 men, 11,299 women) were diagnosed annually, representing approximately two-thirds of all registered invasive cases. The NCRI report also outlines the estimated number of people living with or beyond cancer at the end of 2020. 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.
Information on the number of deaths in Ireland caused by cancer is sourced from the Central Statistics Office.
* Cancer in Ireland 1994-2020: Annual Statistical Report 2022. National Cancer Registry of Ireland, 2022.