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, 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 significant cause of death and morbidity in Europe after cardiovascular diseases1.
Europe comprises only one eighth of the total world population but has around one quarter of the global total of cancer cases: some 3.2 million new patients per year1. The most common cancers in Europe in 2012 were breast, prostate, bowel and lung cancers2.
The estimated incidence for the most common cancers in the European Union in 20122:
- WHO Europe, ‘Cancer’. Available at: http://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-do/health-topics/noncommunicable-diseases/cancer
- IARC, ‘Estimated Incidence of Cancers of both sexes in the European Union’. Available at: http://eco.iarc.fr/EUCAN/Country.aspx?ISOCountryCd=930
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