Trends in cancer mortality in the European Union and accession countries, 1980-2000

Levi, F. ; Lucchini, F. ; Negri, E. ; Zatonski, W. ; Boyle, P. ; La Vecchia, C.

In: Annals of Oncology, 2004, vol. 15, no. 9, p. 1425-1431

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    Cancer mortality rates and trends over the period 1980-2000 for accession countries to the European Union (EU) in May 2004, which include a total of 75 million inhabitants, were abstracted from the World Health Organization (WHO) database, together with, for comparative purposes, those of the current EU. Total cancer mortality for men was 166/100 000 in the EU, but ranged between 195 (Lithuania) and 269/100 000 (Hungary) in central and eastern European accession countries. This excess related to most cancer sites, including lung and other tobacco-related neoplasms, but also stomach, intestines and liver, and a few neoplasms amenable to treatment, such as testis, Hodgkin's disease and leukaemias. Overall cancer mortality for women was 95/100 000 in the EU, and ranged between 100 and 110/100 000 in several central and eastern European countries, and up to 120/100 000 in the Czech Republic and 138/100 000 in Hungary. The latter two countries had a substantial excess in female mortality for lung cancer, but also for several other sites. Furthermore, for stomach and especially (cervix) uteri, female rates were substantially higher in central and eastern European accession countries. Over the last two decades, trends in mortality were systematically less favourable in accession countries than in the EU. Most of the unfavourable patterns and trends in cancer mortality in accession countries are due to recognised, and hence potentially avoidable, causes of cancer, including tobacco, alcohol, dietary habits, pollution and hepatitis B, plus inadequate screening, diagnosis and treatment. Consequently, the application of available knowledge on cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment may substantially reduce the disadvantage now registered in the cancer mortality of central and eastern European accession countries