More than a quarter of deaths caused by cancer

Just over 140 thousand people in the Netherlands died in 2000. More than a quarter of them - 38 thousand - died of cancer. This means that cancer claims 103 lives in the Netherlands every day. After cardiovascular disease (49 thousand deaths in 2000), cancer is the second most common cause of death in the Netherlands.

Cancer deaths, 2000

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Most deaths from lung cancer

Many cancer victims die from lung cancer, breast cancer, cancer of the large intestine, cancer of the lymphoid and haematopoietic tissue (lymph-node cancer and leukaemia) and prostate cancer. These categories account for more than half of total cancer deaths. Lung cancer is the most common: 23 percent of cancer victims die of lung cancer.

Cancer mortality higher among men

A surprisingly high proportion of men die of lung cancer: it accounts for thirty percent of male cancer mortality, more than twice the proportion of female cancer victims claimed by lung cancer. This difference is diminishing though: since 1980 cancer mortality among men has decreased, while among women it has increased. In 2000 lung cancer still caused most cancer deaths among men. For women breast cancer is the biggest killer: one fifth of women who died of cancer died of breast cancer. Relatively slightly more women than men died of cancer of the large intestine in 2000.

Cancer death by type of cancer and age, 2000

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Cancer victims mainly among over-50s

Cancer mortality increases strongly from 50 years of age onwards, peaking at ages 75-79 years. Total mortality peaked at ages 80-84 years in 2000. People who die of lung cancer die at younger ages; the peak for lung cancer deaths is for ages 65-79 years, while for prostate cancer it is for men aged 75-84 years. Mortality from lung cancer starts to increase among 40-45 year-olds, while for prostate cancer this increase only starts from age 55 onwards.

Mortality from cancer of the large intestine, breast and the lymphoid and haematopoietic tissues peaks among 75-79 year-olds. It is notable that mortality from breast cancer starts to increase at a relatively young age, namely 35-39 years.

Suzanne Loozen and Ingeborg Keij