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1.3m in EU to die of cancer: study

Almost 1.3 million cancer sufferers in European Union countries are expected to die from their disease this year, a study has shown.

But although the overall number is up slightly from 2007, cancer death rates have fallen significantly in the past five years.

The latest estimates indicate rates of 139 deaths per 100,000 men and 85 per 100,000 women in 2012. This represents a fall of 10% for men and 7% for women since 2007.

The findings also show that along with Germany, the UK is predicted to have the lowest male cancer death rates in the EU.

Conversely, estimates for female cancer death rates in the UK are high compared with most other EU countries, despite falling by 2% since 2009.

A team of Swiss and Italian researches studied trends for all cancers as well as focusing on specific diseases including those affecting the stomach, lung, prostate, breast and womb.

Drawing on data from the World Health Organisation, the scientists estimated numbers of deaths and death rates for the whole of the EU and six individual countries, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain.

Writing in the Annals of Oncology, they predicted that 717,398 men and 565,703 women in the EU would die from cancer in 2012. In 2007, the disease killed 706,619 men and 554,515 women.

One of the key findings was a big predicted fall in numbers of breast cancer deaths in middle-aged and younger women. These were forecast to drop by 9% overall, and 13% among younger women aged 20 to 49.

Professor Carlo La Vecchia, one of the study leaders from the University of Milan, said: "The fact that there will be substantial falls in deaths from breast cancer, not only in middle age, but also in the young, indicates that important advancements in treatment and management are playing a major role in the decline in death rates, rather than mammographic screening, which is usually restricted to women aged 50-70 in most European countries."

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