This information is intended for healthcare and professional audiences.
Facts and Figures
- Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. Other terms used are malignant tumours and neoplasms.
- One defining feature of cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs. This process is referred to as metastasis, which is the major cause of death from cancer.
Scale of the issue
- Cancer causes 20% of deaths in Europe each year. With more than 3 million new cases and 1.7 million deaths annually, cancer is the most important cause of death and morbidity in Europe after cardiovascular diseases1.
- The most common cancers in Europe in 2008 were2:
- Bowel cancer (436,000 cases, 13.6% of total cancer cases)
- Breast cancer (421,000, 13.1% of total cancer cases)
- Lung cancer (391,000, 12.2% of total cancer cases)
- Prostate cancer (382,000, 11.9% of total cancer cases
- The most common causes of death from cancer in Europe in 2008 were2:
- Lung cancer (342,000 deaths, 19.9% of total deaths from cancer)
- Bowel cancer (212,000 deaths, 12.3% of total deaths from cancer)
- Breast cancer (129,000, 7.5% of total deaths from cancer)
- Stomach cancer (117,000, 6.8% of total deaths from cancer)
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