It has been predicted that Europe in particular will witness close to 1.3 million cancer related deaths this year, with rates rising dramatically for lung cancer in women. Meanwhile, in a survey conducted by the British Medical Journal this month, 72% of readers think healthcare in England in five years' time will be worse or much worse compared with now.
To form this estimate, researchers focused on data on cancer deaths in the European Union (EU) for the period 1970-2007 to calculate rates of death each year and to identify trends which they used to predict death rates for 2011.
In the EU as a whole, death rates from lung cancer in women have gone up from 12.55 per 100,000 of the female population in 2007 to 13.12 in 2011.
Lung cancer has overtaken breast cancer as the first cause of cancer death in Polish women, as well as in women from the UK. The number of women who will die from lung cancer this year in the UK is 15,632 (compared to 14,900 in 2007); this represents a slight drop in the death rate from 20.57 per 100,000 women in 2007 to 20.33 in 2011. In Poland, 6,343 women will die from lung cancer this year compared to 5,643 in 2007, and this represents an increase in the death rate from 15.53 per 100,000 women to 16.60 in 2011.
Professor La Vecchia, one of the study's authors explains in further detail:
"Pancreatic cancer mortality is favorably influenced by the decline in smoking in men, but unfavorably influenced by the increased prevalence of obesity and diabetes. A substantial decline in total cancer mortality rates has been observed since the late 1980s in men and since even earlier in women in the EU. Between 1990-94 and 2000-04 the rates declined by 9% in men.... and by 8% in women....In men the decline has continued in 2007 and will likely carry on up to 2011, and the greatest drop is predicted in Germany. For women too, the declines persist, but the trend in Polish women is less favorable. Given that Poland has the highest total cancer mortality rates in both sexes, the lack of improvement is particularly worrying. In France the predicted decline is also modest, although the 2011 rate in French women remains the second lowest after Spain. This is due to the recent unfavorable trends in lung cancer among French and Spanish women."
Declines in mortality from other major cancers such as stomach, uterus, prostate and leukemia are likely to be seen in 2011, say the researchers. A worrying increase in deaths from pancreatic cancer in women, which had been observed in 2004, appears to have leveled off.
La Vecchia concludes:
"Despite these favorable trends in cancer death rates in Europe the number of cancer deaths remains approximately stable, due to the ageing of the population. Further, there is a persisting gap in cancer mortality between central and eastern European countries compared to Western Europe, and this is likely to persist for the foreseeable future."
Full report detail: Annals of Oncology
Written by Sy Kraft, B.A.