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Marked Increase of Cancer Cases Among Aging Population

br> "Lung cancer retains its status as the leading cause of cancer death in Europe in 2006," said Prof Boyle. "The overwhelming majority of lung cancer is caused by tobacco smoking, and tobacco control is clearly a number one priority in Europe, not only aimed at men, particularly the male populations of Central and Eastern Europe, but increasingly targeted towards women, especially in Northern Europe."

Breast, colorectal and lung cancers have the highest incidence

Since the previous estimates for 2004, breast cancer has overtaken lung cancer as the commonest cancer to be diagnosed overall, with 429,900 new cases in 2006 (13.5% of all cancer cases). It was followed by colorectal cancer (412,900 cases, 12.9%) and lung cancer (386,300 cases, 12.1%).

Prof Boyle said the rise in the number of breast cancer cases could be attributed partially to the introduction of organised mammography screening programmes, which meant that more cancers were detected, and at an earlier stage. "These programmes have the short-term consequence of increasing the incidence, which has risen by 16% since our latest 2004 estimates." Despite the benefit of screening programmes, he said that deaths from breast cancer were continuing to rise (130,000 in 2004, 131,900 in 2006) because of the ageing population.

In women, after breast cancer, colorectal cancer (195,400, 13.1% of the total) and cancer of the uterus (149,300, 10%) were the most commonly diagnosed cancers.

In men, the widespread use of the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) tests was also having an effect on the numbers of prostate cancers being detected; prostate cancer was the most frequent cancer diagnosed (345,900, 20.3% of the total), followed by lung cancer (292,200, 17.2%) and colorectal cancer (217,400, 12.8%).

Prof Boyle said: "Despite the widespread use of PSA testing in many European countries, the number of deaths from prostate cancer has increas
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