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Cancer death toll in Europe drops

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Cancer mortality in Europe has declined at a steady pace over recent years. New figures now published online in the journal Annals of Oncology show a drop of 9% between the first half of the 1990s and the period between 2000 and 2004 in the 27 EU Member States (EU-27). However, the researchers note differences between individual countries and also between the sexes.

The average death toll per 100,000 people from cancer between 1990 and 1994 stood at 185.2 in men and 104.8 in women. Between 2000 and 2004, the number had shrunk to 168 men and 96.9 women.

'The key message of our paper is that the favourable trends in cancer mortality in Europe have continued over the most recent years,' explains Dr Cristina Bosetti, head of the Unit of Cancer Epidemiology at the Mario Negri Institute, Italy. 'This is due mainly to the falls in lung- and other tobacco-related cancers in men, the persistent decline in gastric cancer, but also the appreciable falls in colorectal cancer.

'Screening and early diagnosis have contributed to the decline in cervical and breast cancer, although the fall in breast cancer mortality is mainly due to improved treatment,' continues Dr Bosetti. 'Therapeutic advancements have also played a role in the reduced mortality from testicular cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma and leukaemias, although the declines have been delayed and are smaller in eastern Europe.'

Looking at geographical distribution, mortality rates in men between 2000 and 2004 were highest in Hungary (255.2 per 100,000), the Czech Republic (215.9 per 100,000) and Poland (209.8 per 100,000), and lowest in Sweden (125.8 per 100,000), Finland (130.9 per 100,000) and Switzerland (136.9 per 100,000). Women, on the other hand, most frequently died of cancer in Denmark (141 per 100,000), Hungary (131.5 per 100,000) and Scotland (123.1 per 100,000), while female mortality rates were lowest in southern Europe (78.9 per 100,000 in Spain, 79.7 per 100,000 in Greece, and 80.9 per 100,000 in Portugal).

In these countries, this distribution is mainly due to the difference between men and women in tobacco consumption, the researchers say, noting that further reduction of tobacco smoking therefore remains the key priority for cancer control in Europe. 'Interventions in alcohol drinking, aspects of nutrition, including overweight and obesity, and more widespread adoption of screening, early diagnosis and therapeutic advancements for treatable cancers would contribute to further reduce European cancer burden in the future.'

European Society for Medical Oncology



Source: Community R&D Information Service (CORDIS)

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