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Friday, August 27, 1999 Published at 07:56 GMT 08:56 UK


Cancer deaths fall in Europe

Lung cancer deaths are falling for men, but rising for women

Death rates from most forms of cancer are falling throughout the European Union, but the main exception is lung cancer which is rising for women.

A study of World Health Organization figures, published in The Lancet in Britain, shows that overall cancer death rates have been falling since 1988.

For men, there was a small fall in deaths from lung cancer. These have been falling since a peak in the early 1980s, but remains the biggest cancer killer, accounting for the death of around 50 per 100,000 people in 1995.

However, in women lung cancer continues its gradual rise, resulting in about 22 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in 1996.

Deaths have gone up steadily since the 1950s, but the researchers, led by Dr Fabio Levi from the Registre Vaudois des Tumeurs in Switzerland, say EU levels are still low in comparison with the USA.

The researchers also note a levelling off of deaths from large bowel, pancreas, bladder, oral and throat cancer in men, but a small increase in prostate cancer.

Stomach cancer

The biggest fall for both men and women has been in stomach cancer which has declined from a 1955 level of about 32 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants for men and 20 deaths per 100,000 for women to 10 and five deaths per 100,000 respectively in the mid-1990s.

However, it is still the fourth most deadly form of cancer in the EU.

[ image: Cancer rates are generally falling throughout the EU]
Cancer rates are generally falling throughout the EU
Breast cancer and large bowel cancer deaths have also begun to fall slightly in women, but they remain the top two cancer killers.

Ovarian cancer deaths have stabilised and cervical cancer and leukaemia deaths continue to fall.

There was a small rise in deaths from pancreatic cancer in women.

The researchers say the figures are "further evidence of a moderately encouraging pattern in recent trends in mortality from major cancers in the EU".

Previous research has shown that the UK has some of the worst survival rates for cancer in the EU.

Doctors blame poor funding of research into cancer prevention and treatment, among other factors.

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