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Mortality Declines Unequally
New figures on deaths from cancer in Europe show a steady decline in mortality between the periods 1990 to 1994 and 2000 to 2004. Deaths from all cancers in the European Union (EU) between these two periods fell by nine percent in men and eight percent in women, with a large drop among the middle-aged population.
The researchers say that the persistent downward trend is driven largely by changes in tobacco consumption, with large falls in lung and other tobacco-related cancers in men. A steady decline in gastric cancers and, recently, declines in colorectal cancer have also contributed to the overall drop in mortality rates. However, the picture is variable across Europe and between sexes. For instance, where alcohol or tobacco consumption, or a combination of the two, has increased (particularly in women), there has been a rise in deaths from cancers known to have these as risk factors, such as lung, mouth, pharynx and oesophagus.
Cristina Bosetti, head of the Unit of Cancer Epidemiology at the Mario Negri Department of Epidemiology, said: "The key message of our paper is that the favourable trends in cancer mortality in Europe have continued over the most recent years. This is due mainly to the falls in lung and other tobacco-related cancers in men, the persistent decline in gastric cancer, but also appreciable falls in colorectal cancer. Screening and early diagnosis have contributed to the decline in cervical and breast cancer, although the fall in breast cancer mortality is mainly due to improved treatment. Therapeutic advancements have also played a role in the reduced mortality from testicular cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma and leukaemia."
In their paper the authors say: "These advancements notwithstanding, in the early 2000s, there remains an approximately twofold difference in cancer mortality – as in incidence – across European countries, again reflecting the different spread of cigarette smoking among men and women across various European countries in the past. Thus, further reduction of tobacco smoking remains the key priority for cancer control in Europe. Interventions in alcohol drinking, aspects of nutrition, including overweight and obesity, and more widespread adoption of screening, early diagnosis and therapeutic advancements for treatable cancers would contribute to further reduce European cancer burden in the near future."
MEDICA.de; Source: European Society for Medical Oncology