Few cancer cases diagnosed than expected in 2021

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The numbers of cases of cancer diagnosed in 2021 still appeared to be lower than expected – equivalent to 1,664 fewer cases than projected –  according to a report from the National Cancer Registry Ireland on the impact of COVID on cancer incidence*.

Preliminary findings indicate a smaller shortfall (relative to projected numbers of diagnosed cases) than in 2020, when the registered number of cases was 10% lower than expected for all invasive cancers, or 11% lower than expected for microscopically verified cases.

The paper said the shortfall in 2021 appeared to be most marked for certain cancers.  For both sexes combined, the largest shortfalls were seen for cancers of the liver (36% fewer cases than projected), pancreas (26%) and kidney (20%).

In females, the largest shortfalls were seen for cancers of the pancreas (30% fewer), liver (29%) and kidney (26%).  In males, the largest shortfalls were for cancers of the liver (39% fewer), thyroid (27%) and pancreas (22%).

Overall, combining numbers of cases diagnosed in 2020 and 2021, there was an 8% shortfall in registered invasive cancer cases compared to the projected number (7% shortfall for females and 9% shortfall for males).

*Tierney P, McDevitt J, Brennan A, Walsh PM. (2023) COVID-19 impact on cancer incidence in Ireland in 2021: a preliminary analysis. NCRI, Cork, Ireland