Cancer statistics 2022: More than 500 more cases of melanoma
This is one of the important findings that will emerge when the Cancer Registry of Norway publishes statistics for 2022 on Wednesday 10 May.
The increase in melanoma is evident in both sexes, but strongest in women. The numbers are also increasing in all age groups.
"And the strongest growth is found among the elderly," says Giske Ursin, director of the Cancer Registry.
Together with colleagues, she has been trying to find the cause of the high incidence in 2022.
"This is related to sunbathing habits, and the fact that many people have suffered repeated sun damage over a long lifetime. However, we don't know exactly why we're seeing such a sharp jump from 2021 to 2022," she said.
However, speculation suggests that there may have been some cases that were not detected until 2022 due to the pandemic.
"Had it not been for COVID, we suspect that the numbers for the previous two years would have been somewhat higher than they were," Ursin said.
If so, what impact has such a delayed diagnosis had on the patients' well-being? So far, the Cancer Registry of Norway has not been able to see any unambiguous signs of a poorer prognosis at group level.
"And of course we're happy about that. But we are following this closely, and we are investigating a number of elements, such as stage distribution and thickness of melanomas, survival and mortality," says Ursin.
The Cause of Death Registry is not yet ready with its figures, but annually around 300 people die of melanoma.
– Happens too little to prevent
The Norwegian Cancer Society takes the development seriously - for pandemic or not - skin cancer is among the cancers that have increased the most during the last decades.
"We are one of the countries in the world with the highest incidence of melanoma, and the fact that the increase continues is dramatic. Far greater resources must be devoted to preventing more. We got a national UV/skin cancer strategy five years ago, but find that so far quite little has happened to prevent skin cancer", says Secretary General of the Norwegian Cancer Society, Ingrid S. Ross.
She emphasizes that many of these cancer cases could have been avoided, and calls for stronger efforts from the health authorities.
"The potential for prevention is great here – about 9 out of 10 cases are associated with too much UV radiation, i.e. sun and solarium. We expect the government to take these new figures seriously and a minimum measure would be to regulate tanning beds with marketing bans," she said.
A total of 38,265 cases in 2022
The latest statistics from the Cancer Registry show that there were a total of 38,265 new cancer cases in Norway in 2022.
This means that the incidence is somewhat higher than the previous year.
At the same time, the Cancer Registry's dynamic statistics bank will also be updated with all figures for 2022.
The Cancer Registry of Norway's statistics bank
- A small increase in cancer numbers is expected, since we are becoming more and more in this country, and an increasing proportion of the population is older, says Director Giske Ursin.
However, the increase has been greater than what the Cancer Registry normally sees.
"As with melanoma, we believe there has also been some underdiagnosis for some other cancers as a result of the pandemic, and that we have spent both 2021 and 2022 recovering a backlog," she says.
She also emphasizes that Norway have been fortunate after all, and that for the most part, cancer patients have been both assessed and treated according to the recommendations, despite the pandemic situation.
Over 4000 new cases of breast cancer
Breast cancer is among the cancers with a clear increase. 4224 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022, which is the highest number the Cancer Registry has ever reported.
"The pandemic left a clear mark on breast cancer figures, not least in 2020, where mammography screening had to stop for a period of time, and far fewer cases than normal were detected," says Ursin.
Much of this backlog was recovered during 2021.
"And what we see in the recent figures is that the increase in breast cancer does not come in the target group for the screening programme, 50-69 years, but for both those who are older and the younger we see an increase this year. Not least, we see an increase among women over the age of 80. This development surprises us a little, so we will keep an eye on this", says Ursin.
Still the right direction for lung cancer
Lung cancer continues to show a clear and gratifying decline in both men and women in all age groups, except among the very oldest. However, since there is still a high incidence among the elderly, the number of cases overall remains high, and in 2022 there were a total of 3534 men and women who were affected by lung cancer.
For men, the rates, i.e. the number of cases per 100 000 persons, have stabilised and declined over several years. Men passed the peak in incidence between 2000-2010.
"For women, it has been more unresolved, but now we hope that we can finally confirm that we have passed the peak here as well. Hopefully, the trend will just keep going downwards. If the rates do not increase again later, 2018 will stand as the peak year for lung cancer among women", says Director Giske Ursin.
The most common cancers in 2022, number of cases
Breast cancer: 4224
Lung cancer: 1730
Colon cancer: 1649
Melanoma (melanoma): 1449
Skin cancer (except melanoma): 1375
Prostate cancer: 5474
Lung cancer: 1804
- Skin cancer (except melanoma): 1686
Colon cancer: 1603
Melanoma (melanoma): 1462