Cancer mortality higher, but risk of dying from cancer lower

01/02/2011 15:00

The risk of dying from cancer is declining. The risk for men and women to die from cancer dropped by 14 and 5 percent respectively in 2010 relative to 2000, but the cancer death toll has increased due to population growth and demographic ageing.

Cancer mortality

Cancer mortality

More cancer deaths

More than 42 thousand people died from cancer in the Netherlands last year. Cancer accounts for nearly one third of total annual mortality. Population growth and demographic ageing have caused the number of cancer deaths to increase steadily over the past decades.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both genders, claiming more than 10 thousand lives in 2010. In the female population, breast cancer comes second with 3.2 thousand deaths. In men, intestinal cancer is the second largest with over 2.8 thousand deaths.

Cancer mortality by type of cancer, 2010

Cancer mortality by type of cancer, 2010

Lower risk of dying from cancer

If population growth and demographic ageing are taken into account, the risk <<3310k1.doc>> of dying from cancer has declined over the past decades. The decline is most obvious among men. The smaller number of lung cancer deaths was important in this respect. The risk for women to die from cancer has not dropped so rapidly, because lung cancer mortality increased in the female population. More women started smoking during the past decades, whereas the number of male smokers has declined.

Cancer mortality (total) and lung cancer

Cancer mortality (total) and lung cancer

Cancer mortality risk drops more rapidly among men

Over the past decade, the risk of dying from cancer has dropped. The risk for men and women has dropped by about 14 and 5 percent respectively in 2010 relative to 2000. The mortality risk for stomach cancer has dropped continually over the past half century. 

On the other hand, the mortality risk for various other types of cancer is growing. The most dramatic increase was found for lung cancer (women) and melanoma of the skin (both genders).

Changes in the risk of dying from cancer, 2010 relative to 2000

Changes in the risk of dying from cancer, 2010 relative to 2000

Joop Garssen and Jan Hoogenboezem