Death increasingly often caused by cancer
In 2016, 72.2 thousand deaths were recorded among men and 76.8 thousand among women. Cancer has been the leading cause of death among men for over ten years. For the first time, more deaths were linked to cancer than to cardiovascular disease among women in 2016: 20.7 thousand women died from cancer and 20.5 thousand from cardiovascular disease. There were 24.5 thousand male deaths from cancer in that year.
Mortality from cardiovascular disease down
The total number of deaths due to cancer shows stable growth. Since 1970, there has been an increase of 10 thousand cases among men as well as among women. Mortality from cardiovascular disease has seen a decrease since 1970, mainly during the period from 1995 to 2010.
Highest mortality due to lung cancer
Since 2007, lung cancer in females has caused most deaths due to cancer. Over the past twenty years, the number of women who died from lung cancer has more than doubled, from 1.9 thousand in 1997 to 4.4 thousand in 2016. As a result, lung cancer accounted for 21 percent in total cancer mortality among women in 2016. Breast cancer represented a share of 15 percent, while 12 percent of the cases could be attributed to colorectal cancer.
One-quarter of cancer deaths in males are due to lung cancer. Both colorectal cancer and prostate cancer are responsible for 11 percent of deaths.
Cancer mortality down in relative terms
Although absolute numbers of cancer deaths are growing on an annual basis, a decrease is seen in relative terms. When taking into account the population growth and ageing, the cancer mortality rate has dropped since the late 1980s, for men in particular. The decrease among women is small, mainly due to an increase in lung cancer deaths, which is related to people’s smoking behaviour of some decades ago. The standardised mortality rate due to cardiovascular disease has been falling since the early 1970s.