Cancer named as Norfolk’s biggest killer

PUBLISHED: 13:48 18 July 2018 | UPDATED: 13:48 18 July 2018

Nikki Morris, deputy chief executive of the Big C.

Nikki Morris, deputy chief executive of the Big C.


Cancer kills more people in Norfolk than any other condition.

Newly-released data from Public Health England has revealed that, of 6,796 deaths registered in the county, 1,913 people died from the disease in 2016, the most recent period for which data has been released.

The disease was the most likely cause of death in most areas of Norfolk except north Norfolk, where people were more likely to die from circulatory diseases.

Some 405 people died from conditions such as heart attacks in north Norfolk in 2016, representing 25.5pc of deaths - higher than the rate for England.

Cancer death rates in the county are in line with the national rate of around 28pc, except in Norwich where it was slightly below at 26.9pc.

But the number of people dying from cancer in Great Yarmouth rose, while everywhere else in the county it fell.

Helen Rippon, chief executive of Worldwide Cancer Research, said the lower mortality rate from cancer was a consequence of better tests and treatments, but there was still work to be done.

She said: “Some types of cancer have benefitted incredibly from research, with a person’s chance of survival pushing upwards of 90pc.

“Others have not fared as well and survival rates are still as low as they were in 1970.

“Historically, less funding has been given to some types of cancer, which somewhat explains the discrepancies in survival rates.

“The proportion of deaths caused by cancer in the UK is slightly higher than seen in Europe as a whole, where cancer accounts for 20pc of all deaths.

“To understand why some places may have higher or lower numbers of people dying from cancer you need to be able to take everything into account, including dietary, lifestyle and environmental factors.”

Deputy chief executive at Norfolk and Waveney’s cancer charity Big C, Nikki Morris, said: “Whilst it is clearly good news that the figures show a reduction in cancer deaths, Big C is committed to ensuring that trend continues.

“We are proud to invest substantially in ground-breaking, world-class cancer research taking place here at the Norwich Research Park and in state of the art facilities, such as the Quadram Institute. The support and information work that Big C undertakes remains as relevant today as it has been since its inception.

“The work we undertake to raise awareness of lifestyle choices to prevent cancer and symptom awareness so people seek help at an early stage of cancer remains crucial in continuing the downward trend in these figures. We are also conscious that while death rates are falling that the number of people diagnosed with cancer is rising year on year.

After cancer, circulatory diseases, like hypertension, were the second deadliest illness in most of the county.

Jacob West, director of healthcare innovation at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Over the last 50 years, we have seen advancements in treating conditions like heart attack and a decline in smoking. These factors play a significant role in a slight decline in death rates from circulatory disease, but we can’t get complacent. Progress has slowed since 2011 and 150,000 people still die from these diseases in the UK each year.

“Socio-economic factors have a significant effect on someone’s risk of heart and circulatory diseases, with research suggesting this is largely due to unhealthier lifestyles and being less likely to report any warning signs to their GP. We can’t think that circulatory disease is a ticked box - it remains the world’s biggest killer and the problem isn’t going away.”

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