Today 4 February is World Cancer Day. On this occasion, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union (EU) has published the latest comparative data about deaths caused by this illness throughout the continent. And Finland is well placed in the ranking, with one of the lowest death rates.
However, the figures still show a scary reality: almost 1.2 million persons died from cancer in the EU in 2016. Cancer was responsible for over one quarter (26%) of all deaths recorded in the EU.
Men (656 100 deaths due to cancer) were more affected than women (511 600). Cancer caused 29% of deaths of men and around 23% of deaths of women in 2016.
Fatal cancers caused 288 900 deaths among people younger than 65 years in the EU, corresponding to 37% of all deaths in this age group, while less than one quarter (878 800 deaths, 23%) of all deaths among those aged 65 and above.
Lung and breast, the main fatal cancers
According to Eurostat, lung cancer claimed 239,000 lives in the EU in 2016, accounting for one fifth (20%) of all deaths due to cancer. Colorectal cancer (139,700 deaths, 12% of all deaths due to cancer), breast cancer (85,300, 7%), pancreatic cancers (78,700, 7%) and prostate cancer (65,200, 6%) were also frequent causes of death.
Lung cancer was the main fatal cancer form for men, being responsible for one quarter (165,000 deaths, 25%) of all male deaths from cancer. This was far more than colorectal cancer (77,400, 12%) and prostate cancer (65,200, 10%).
Breast cancer (84,300 deaths, 16% of all female deaths due to cancer), lung cancer (74,100, 14%) and colorectal cancer (62,300, 12%) caused the most cancer deaths among women in the EU in 2016.
Death rate highest in Hungary, lowest in Cyprus
Across the European Union, there were 257 deaths from cancer per 100,000 in 2016. With 345 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, Hungary recorded the highest age-standardised death rate from cancer among the EU Member States. High death rates from cancer were also registered in Croatia (334), Slovakia (315) and Slovenia (309).
In contrast, low death rates from cancer were recorded in a number of Mediterranean and Nordic countries. The lowest rate was recorded in Cyprus with 194 deaths from cancer per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Finland (220), Malta (221), Sweden (229) and Spain (230).
Over the period from 2011 to 2016, the age-standardised death rate has fallen slowly but steadily, from 266 deaths from cancer per 100 000 inhabitants in 2011 to 257 in 2016.