In the Journals

European mortality rates from pancreatic cancer predicted to increase in 2014

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June 25, 2014

Although the mortality rates from most cancers in Europe are expected to decrease in 2014, death rates from pancreatic cancer are projected to increase in men and women, according to recent findings.

“Our predictions for 2014 confirm that pancreatic death rates are continuing to increase overall,” Carlo La Vecchia, MD, professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Milan, said in a press release. “This year we predict that 41,300 men and 41,000 women will die from pancreatic cancer. This represents a small but steady increase since the beginning of this century; between 2000-2004 death rates from the disease were 7.6 per 100,000 men and 5.0 per 100,000 women.”

Vecchia and colleagues utilized death certification data obtained from the WHO database regarding deaths from cancers of the stomach, colorectum, pancreas, lung, breast, uterus, prostate and leukemia. Total cancer mortality data was also analyzed. The statistics included the most recent data for the following countries: France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK.

Using the materials on deaths and European populations, the researchers calculated age-specific numbers of deaths and rates, stratified by five-year age groups (from 0-4 to 80+ years) and by calendar year.

In addition, they computed age-systematized rates per 100,000 men and women, at all ages, based on the world standard population for all evaluated cancers and countries. A logarithmic Poisson count data joinpoint regression model was fit to each five-year, age-specific number of certified deaths to determine the most recent trend segment.

The researchers predicted 1,323,600 cancer deaths in the EU in 2014 (742,500 men and 581,100 women), correlating with standardized death rates of 138.1/100,000 men and 84.7/100,000 women. This equated to a predicted 7% decrease in men and 5% decrease in women.

In men, the projected rates for three major cancers are expected to decrease by the following: lung cancer, 8% decrease; colorectal cancer, 4% decrease; prostate cancer, 10% decrease. In women, breast cancer is projected to decrease by 9%, and colorectal cancers by 7%.

“The fall in colorectal cancer in both men and women is largely due to screening, early diagnosis and removal of adenomas at colonoscopy,” Vecchia said. “Improved treatment has also had a role. For prostate cancer, the key reason for the fall in death rates is improved management and treatment, with a possible role played by screening and early diagnosis. For breast cancer, it is largely due to better management and treatment, but screening and early diagnosis have also had an impact.”

However, the researchers projected that lung cancer in women will increase by 8%, and pancreatic cancer is expected to increase in both genders. Among men only between the ages of 25 and 49, the EU pancreatic cancer predictions became favorable, while slight increases are projected for women in this age group.

“To date, we have no promising treatment for pancreatic cancer,” Vecchia said. “Prevention remains, therefore, the only possibility, with smoking cessation first, plus control of overweight and diabetes. However, tobacco accounts for less than a third of all cases of pancreatic cancer, and all the other causes together account for another ten percent. More work needs to be done to discover other possible causes.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant disclosures.