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New European cancer figures for 2004 major efforts needed against the big four killers

There were nearly 2.9 million new cases of cancer and more than 1.7 million cancer deaths in Europe last year, according to new estimates in a report published (Thursday 17 February) in Annals of Oncology. The authors warn that the ageing of the European population means that these figures will continue to rise, even if incidence and mortality rates for specific age groups remain constant.

They also say that it is vital to make a major assault on the four biggest killers lung, colorectal, breast and stomach cancer if there is to be quick, significant progress against the burden of the disease.

The report has been produced by Professor Peter Boyle, Director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) from Lyon, France and Dr Jacques Ferlay, staff scientist at the Descriptive Epidemiology Unit, IARC.

Close to 3 million new cases a year

They estimated that there were nearly 2.9 million new cases diagnosed in 2004 and over 1.7 million deaths from cancer. Of these, 54% of the new cases (1,534,700) and 56% of deaths (962,600) were among men. The 25 EU countries accounted for 2 million of these new cases and 1.2 million of these deaths .

"It is clear that despite a fall in stomach cancer rates and some progress in screening and treatment, cancer remains an important public health problem throughout Europe", said Professor Boyle.

Lung and colorectal cancers leading cancers overall

Overall, lung cancer was the commonest form of cancer diagnosed (13.2%) and of cancer death (20%). Although colorectal cancer was almost equally common (13%), it represented a smaller proportion of deaths (11.9%).

Breast cancer on the rise, stomach cancer decreasing

Among women, breast cancer was by far the most common, representing 27.4% of all female cases and it was also the biggest killer with nearly 130,000 deaths 17.4% of the total. One cancer in eight in Europe was breast cancer and
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Contact: Margaret Willson
m.willson@mwcommunications.org.uk
44-153-677-2181
European Society for Medical Oncology
16-Feb-2005


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