Aging Population Is Boosting Europe's Cancer Rate: Study

Antismoking campaigns and other efforts can slow the trend, experts say

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WEDNESDAY, Feb. 7, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- As Europe's population gets older, cancer rates will rise, a new French study suggests.

"Cancer remains an important public health problem in Europe, and the aging of the European population will cause these numbers to continue to increase, even if age-specific rates of cancer remain constant," Peter Boyle, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), in Lyon, said in a prepared statement.

His team urged immediate action to fight cancer, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, using measures such as tobacco control, more widespread screening for breast and colorectal cancer, and programs to improve diet and exercise and reduce obesity levels.

The report said that between 2004 and 2006, the number of cancer cases diagnosed each year in Europe increased by 300,000. In 2006, there were an estimated 3.2 million new cases of cancer on the continent, compared to 2.9 million in 2004. It's estimated that cancer killed 1.7 million people in Europe in 2006.

Of the estimated 3.2 million new cases of cancer, 53 percent were in men and 47 percent in women. Of the 1.7 million deaths, 56 percent were in men and 44 percent in women.

Lung, colorectal, breast and stomach cancers are the leading cancer killers in Europe. In 2006, lung cancer caused an estimated 334,800 deaths (19.7 percent of the total cancer deaths), followed by colorectal cancer (207,400 deaths), breast cancer (131,900 deaths), and stomach cancer (118,200 deaths).

The report is in the Feb. 7 issue of the journal Annals of Oncology.

More information

The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion offers U.S. cancer statistics.

SOURCE: European Society for Medical Oncology, news release, Feb. 6, 2007

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