Aging population is causing major increase in the cancer burden warn experts

Between 2004 and 2006, the number of new cases of cancer diagnosed each year in Europe has increased by 300,000 according to new estimates published in a report in Annals of Oncology today (Wednesday 7 February) [1]. It is estimated that in 2006 there were 3.2 million new cases of cancer (up from 2.9 million in 2004) and 1.7 million deaths from the disease in the whole of Europe.

Professor Peter Boyle, Director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, who prepared the report with IARC colleagues, warned that despite better prevention and treatments, Europe faced a major increase in the cancer burden because of the ageing population. He said urgent action was needed now to tackle cancer, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, through measures such as tobacco control and more widespread screening for breast and colorectal cancer, as well as efforts to improve people's diet and exercise and reduce levels of obesity.

"With an estimated 3.2 million new cases (53% occurring in men, 47% in women) and 1.7 million deaths (56% in men, 44% in women) each year, cancer remains an important public health problem in Europe, and the ageing of the European population will cause these numbers to continue to increase, even if age-specific rates of cancer remain constant," he said. "Evidence-based public health measures, such as screening, exist to reduce deaths from breast, cervical and colorectal cancer, while the incidence of lung cancer, and several other forms of cancer, could be diminished by tobacco control."

The 25 EU countries accounted for nearly 2.3 million of the new cases and over one million cancer deaths [2].

Lung, colorectal, breast and stomach cancers are the top four killers

Lung cancer remains the biggest killer, with an estimated 334,800 deaths in 2006 (19.7% of the total number of deaths from cancer), followed by colorectal cancer (207,400 deaths), breast cancer (131

Contact: Emma Mason
European Society for Medical Oncology

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