Continuing declines in cancer mortality in the European Union

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Abstract

Background

From 1988 to 1997 age-standardised total cancer mortality rates in the European Union (EU) fell by around 9% in both sexes. Available cancer mortality data in Europe up to 2002 allow a first check of the forecast of further declines in cancer mortality.

Patients and methods

We considered trends in age-standardised mortality from major cancer sites in the EU during the period 1980–2002.

Results

For men, total cancer mortality, after a peak of 191.1/100 000 in 1987 declined to 177.8 in 1997 (−7%), and to 166.5 in 2002. Corresponding figures for females were 107.9/100 000, 100.5 and 95.2, corresponding to falls of 7% from 1987 to 1997, and to 5% from 1997 to 2002. Over the last 5 years, lung cancer declined by 1.9% per year in men, to reach 44.4/100 000, but increased by 1.7% in women, to reach 11.4. In 2002, for the first year, lung cancer mortality in women was higher than that for intestinal cancer (11.1/100 000), and lung cancer became the second site of cancer deaths in women after breast (17.9/100 000). From 1997 to 2002, appreciable declines were observed in mortality from intestinal cancer in men (−1.6% per year, to reach 18.8/100 000), and in women (−2.5%), as well as for breast (−1.7% per year) and prostate cancer (−1.4%).

Conclusions

Despite the persisting rises in female lung cancer, the recent trends in cancer mortality in the EU are encouraging and indicate that an 11% reduction in total cancer mortality from 2000 to 2015 is realistic and possible.

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