European cancer rates declining, report indicates

By Cynthia E. Keen, staff writer

January 7, 2010 -- Cancer mortality is steadily declining in Europe, echoing a trend also being seen in the U.S. and Japan, according to a study comparing cancer deaths between 1990-1994 and 2000-2004.

In the European Union, mortality rates for all cancers fell by 10% in men and 8% in women. Declines were more significant throughout Europe in populations ages 35 to 44, at 25% for men and 20% for women.

Data from 34 European countries were used to calculate mortality rates in 2000-2004, while data for 1990-1994 were obtained from the World Health Organization in Geneva, according to a report published online in the Annals of Oncology (November 30, 2009).

Overall mortality decreased from 185.2 deaths per 100,000 men to 168.0 deaths. This decline in mortality was attributed predominantly to a decrease in tobacco consumption, with a 16% reduction in lung cancer, specifically, and major reductions in other tobacco-related cancers. Recent declines in colorectal cancer and declines in gastric cancer attributed to changes in diet and lifestyle were also cited.

In women, mortality decreased from 104.8 deaths per 100,000 women to 96.9 deaths. The greatest reductions in mortality were for breast and cervical cancers, attributed to earlier detection through screening programs and improved treatment.

Highest/lowest mortality rates per 100,000 population, by country
Highest Lowest
Men 255.2 - Hungary 136.9 - Switzerland
215.9 - Czech Republic
209.8 - Poland
Women 141.0 - Denmark 78.9 - Spain
131.5 - Hungary 79.7 - Greece
123.1 - Scotland 80.9 - Portugal

The mortality declines for both men and women were of comparable magnitude to those in the U.S. and Japan in the past decade, according to co-principal investigators Dr. Carlo La Vecchia, head of the department of epidemiology at Milan's Instituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche "Mario Negri," and Dr. Fabio Levi, head of the cancer epidemiology unit at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois' Institut de Médicine Sociale et Préventive in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The researchers attributed adoption of standard therapeutic protocols to reducing mortality from Hodgkin's lymphomas, leukemias, and testicular cancers. They also believe that advancements in integrated treatments have reduced breast, colorectal, ovarian, and prostate cancer mortality.

The key priority for cancer control in Europe is further reduction of tobacco smoking, according to the authors. They advocated more widespread adoption of screening for early diagnosis of cancers, and implementation of intervention programs to reduce alcohol consumption and to improve nutritional habits to reduce obesity.

A copy of the report, which provides detailed statistics by type of cancer and by country, may be downloaded here.

By Cynthia E. Keen staff writer
January 7, 2010

U.S. cancer rates continue their decline: report, December 8, 2009

ACS report: Breast cancer death rate dropping, September 30, 2009

Cancer rates and related deaths drop in U.S., November 26, 2008

Copyright © 2010


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