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15-02-2011 | Oncology | Article

EU cancer deaths predicted to fall in 2011


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MedWire News: Researchers have predicted that overall cancer death rates among men and women will fall across Europe in 2011 compared with 2007.

Despite showing an overall reduction in cancer deaths, the estimates - based on World Health Organization mortality and population data from 1970-2007 - also highlight some areas of concern, particularly rising rates of lung cancer in women.

Carlo La Vecchia (University of Milan, Italy) and colleagues looked at overall cancer rates in the European Union (EU), and also individual rates in six major EU countries: France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, and the UK.

They predicted there would be 1,281,466 cancer deaths in the EU in 2011 (721,252 men and 560,184 women), compared with 1,256,001 (703,872 men and 552,129 women) in 2007.

Expressed as world standardized rates per 100,000 of the population, the estimated cancer death rate in 2011 will fall compared with 2007, from 153.8 per 100,000 to 142.8 per 100,000 in men and from 90.7 to 85.3 in women - a drop of 7% in men and 6% in women.

Poland had the highest overall cancer death rates in both men and women. The lowest rates were predicted among German and UK men and among Spanish women.

Lung cancer accounted for the most deaths in men (25% of total male cancer deaths), while breast cancer was the biggest killer among women (16% of total female deaths).

But there was a downward trend for mortality for both of these cancers as well as for other major cancers such as colorectal, stomach, uterus, prostate, and leukemia, say the researchers.

In contrast, lung cancer mortality in women increased steadily from 1985-2007, and the team predicted that the upward trend would continue until 2011. This was true for all countries except the UK, which has had the highest lung cancer rate among European women for a decade and is now seeing a leveling off.

More encouraging trends were predicted for pancreatic cancer, which showed a worrying increase in 2004 but now appears to have stabilized.

"Despite these favorable trends in cancer death rates in Europe the number of cancer deaths remains approximately stable, due to the ageing of the population," concluded Vecchia.

"Further, there is a persisting gap in cancer mortality between central and eastern European countries compared to western Europe, and this is likely to persist for the foreseeable future," he said.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Laura Dean

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