Cancer main cause of death among Dutch women

In 2016, the number of deaths in the Netherlands stood at 149 thousand. Most people died from cancer and cardiovascular disease, i.e. 30 percent (45 thousand) and 26 percent (39 thousand) respectively. For the first time, mortality due to cancer exceeded the number of deaths due to cardiovascular disease among Dutch women in 2016, according to a new analysis by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

Causes of death, 2016
 Men (%)Women (%)
Cardiovascular disease25.126.7
Psychological disorders and diseases of the nervous system, including dementia10.916.2
Diseases of the respiratory system8.47.7
Unnatural death5.64.7
Other causes of death1617.7

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.

Deaths from cancer and cardiovascular disease
 Cancer - men (x 1,000)Cancer - women (x 1,000)Cardiovascular disease - men (x 1,000)Cardiovascular disease - women (x 1,000)

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.

Deaths from cancer, most common types in 2016
Lung cancer63004391
Breast cancer3150
Prostate cancer2770
Colorectal cancer (incl. rectum)27692438
Tumors of the hematopoietic and lymphoid tissues20751546
Pancreatic cancer14171413
Ovarian cancer1032
Esophageal cancer1392477
Bladder cancer896
Stomach cancer758481
Kidney cancer577
Uterine cancer523

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.