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The European Council recommends that organised cervical cancer screening be offered in all member states. In order to evaluate the impact of existing and new prevention methods, regularly updated information on the burden of cervical cancer is needed. The best estimates of mortality and incidence rates were applied to the 2004 projected population of 40 European countries using methods developed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Using the absolute number of cases and deaths, the standardised and cumulative rates (up to age of 74 years) were computed for individual countries, and aggregated for the 15 old (EU15) and the 10 new member states (EU10) of the European Union (EU25). For the 28 countries (25 belonging to the EU25 and three others), deaths from not otherwise specified uterine cancer were reallocated to cervix or corpus uteri cancer using age-specific rules described in GLOBOCAN 2002. The burden of cervical cancer deaths in the whole of Europe was assessed by analysing uterus cancer mortality in women aged <45 years. In 2004, ∼31 000 women in the EU25 developed cervical cancer and almost 14 000 died from the disease. A striking contrast is noted between the 15 old and 10 new EU member states: world age-standardised incidence rates (per 105 women-years) of 9.5 versus 16.7; standardised mortality rates of 4.9 versus 10.7; cumulative mortality rate of 0.27% versus 0.71%. The burden was lowest in Finland (cumulative incidence and mortality rate of 0.38% and 0.12%, respectively) and highest in Lithuania (cumulative incidence and mortality of 1.64% and 0.94%, respectively). The mapping of uterine cancer mortality among women aged <45 years indicates that the burden of cervical cancer is particularly high across the whole of Eastern Europe. Cervical cancer still constitutes a considerable public health problem in Europe. The dramatic contrast between West and East European states merits particular attention from the health authorities of the countries concerned and the EU as a whole. The European Commission should maintain cervical cancer control in future action plans and increase support to the most affected member states.