Rate of Cancer Deaths Declining in Europe

Researchers credit cancer prevention program in part

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TUESDAY, July 29, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- There were 92,500 fewer cancer deaths than expected in the European Union in the year 2000.

That's according to the first published results of the Europe Against Cancer Programme, which appear in the July 29 issue of the Annals of Oncology.

It had been estimated that EU cancer deaths would increase from just over 850,000 in 1985 to more than 1.03 million in 2000. But the study says when final statistics are compiled, the actual toll from cancer deaths in 2000 should be closer to 940,500.

Overall in the EU, the relative risk of cancer death fell by 11 percent for men and 10 percent for women between 1985 and 2000.

Here are some of the key findings:

  • The biggest reductions in cancer deaths for men were in Luxembourg (-24 percent), Finland (-17 percent), Austria (-15 percent), The Netherlands (-14 percent), and Italy (-13 percent). Biggest increases were in Portugal (+17 percent) and Spain (+11 percent).
  • The biggest reductions in cancer deaths for women were in Austria (-15 percent), Finland (-15 percent), Luxembourg (-13 percent), the United Kingdom (-10 percent), and Italy, France and Germany (-9 percent). There were increases in Portugal (+3 percent) and Greece (+2 percent).
  • The biggest reductions in lung cancer deaths in men were in the UK (-38 percent), Finland (-36 percent), The Netherlands (-29 percent), Luxembourg (-24 per cent), Austria (-23 percent) and Ireland (-22 percent).
  • The number of lung cancer deaths in women increased in every country, ranging from a jump of 8 percent in the UK to a jump of 84 percent in The Netherlands.
  • Every EU member state had a decline in the risk of dying from stomach cancer. There were favorable downward trends in colorectal cancer risk in nearly all the countries. Overall, the risk of dying from breast cancer fell by 5 percent.

The researchers say that at least part of the credit for the lower death rates goes to the Europe Against Cancer Programme, which in the mid-1980s set a target to reduce cancer deaths by 15 percent by the year 2000.

Only Austria and Finland actually achieved a 15 percent reduction in cancer deaths for both men and women. The United Kingdom and Luxembourg achieved the 15 percent reduction in deaths for men.

"Although we fell short of our ambitious target, the reductions are noteworthy and about half of the expected increase in cancer deaths was avoided." lead researcher Peter Boyle, director of the division of epidemiology and biostatistics at the European Institute of Oncology, says in a news release.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about the Europe Against Cancer Programme.

SOURCE: Annals of Oncology, news release, July 29, 2003

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