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Largest ever study on European cancer prevalence shows large differences between countries

The largest study on the prevalence of cancer in Europe is published in the latest issue of Annals of Oncology, journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology.

Thirty-eight cancer registries in 17 countries provided data on 3 million cancer patients for EUROPREVAL. An objective of the study was to provide health systems with essential information for health planning and resource allocation.

Cancer prevalence is the number of patients with the disease in the population at a given time. This is not the same as incidence, which is the number of new cases of cancer arising in a given period in a specified population.

The international team of researchers found large differences between countries for overall prevalence of cancer, with estimates ranging from a low of 1,170 per 100,000 in the Polish cancer registration areas to a high of 3,050 per 100,000 in southern Sweden. For most cancers, the Swedish, Swiss, German and Italian registries had high prevalence and the Polish, Estonian, Slovakian and Slovenian areas had low prevalence. But there were also wide variations between countries for individual cancers.

Of the total prevalent cases 61% were women, with all countries showing higher prevalence among women. Breast cancer accounted for 34% of the female cancers. The most prevalent cancer among men Europe-wide was colorectal cancer, accounting for 15% of all male prevalent cancers. People of 65 and over accounted for 57%. Prevalence tended to be high where incidence was high, but was also highest in countries where survival was high.

The research team found that high prevalence was associated with low general and infant mortality and with high gross domestic product and high total health expenditure, suggesting that cancer prevalence will rise as the level of economic development rises. The report states that cancer prevalence is therefore both an indicator of positive and negative aspects of economic development
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Contact: Margaret Willson
m.willson@mwcommunications.org.uk
44-1536-772181
European Society for Medical Oncology
5-Jun-2002


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