Cancer statistics - specific cancers

Data extracted in January 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: January 2018.

This article presents an overview of European Union (EU) statistics related to a selection of the most common types of cancer: colorectal cancer; trachea, bronchus and lung cancer (hereafter referred to simply as lung cancer); breast cancer; and prostate cancer. For each of these four types of cancer, an analysis is provided that focuses on cancer healthcare (in terms of the length of stay and the number of discharges) and deaths from cancer; there is also data on screenings for colorectal and breast cancer. An accompanying article provides an overview of statistics related to cancers in general.

This article is one of a set of statistical articles concerning health status in the EU which forms part of an online publication on health statistics.

Table 1: Causes of death — malignant neoplasms of trachea, bronchus and lung, residents, 2013
Source: Eurostat (hlth_cd_aro) and (hlth_cd_asdr2)
Figure 1: Health care activities — malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus and lung, 2014
Source: Eurostat (hlth_co_disch2) and (hlth_co_inpst)
Table 2: Causes of death — malignant neoplasms of colon, rectosigmoid junction, rectum, anus and anal canal, residents, 2013
Source: Eurostat (hlth_cd_aro) and (hlth_cd_asdr2)
Figure 2: Health care activities — malignant neoplasm of colon, rectosigmoid junction, rectum, anus and anal canal, 2014
Source: Eurostat (hlth_co_disch2) and (hlth_co_inpst)
Figure 3: Period since screening for colorectal cancer, persons aged 50–74 years, 2014 or nearest year
(%)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_ehis_pa5e)
Table 3: Causes of death — malignant neoplasms of breast, residents, 2013
Source: Eurostat (hlth_cd_aro) and (hlth_cd_asdr2)
Figure 4: Health care activities — malignant neoplasm of breast, 2014
Source: Eurostat (hlth_co_disch2) and (hlth_co_inpst)
Figure 5: Breast cancer screening, women aged 50 to 69 years, 2009 and 2014
(%)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_ps_scre)
Figure 6: Mammography units, 2009 and 2014
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_rs_equip)
Table 4: Causes of death — malignant neoplasms of prostate, males, residents, 2013
Source: Eurostat (hlth_cd_aro) and (hlth_cd_asdr2)
Figure 7: Health care activities — malignant neoplasm of prostate, males, 2014
Source: Eurostat (hlth_co_disch2) and (hlth_co_inpst)

Main statistical findings

Lung cancer

Within the EU, lung cancer was the most common cause of death among cancers, accounting for one fifth of all deaths from cancer

In 2013, more than a quarter of a million (269 thousand) people died from lung cancer in the EU-28, just over one fifth (20.8 %) of all deaths from cancer and 5.4 % of the total number of deaths — see Table 1. The share of deaths attributed to lung cancer was 7.5 % for men, more than double the share (3.3 %) for women.

Among the EU Member States, the share of the total number of deaths from lung cancer peaked at 7.0 % or more in the Netherlands (7.3 %) and Denmark (7.0 %), in contrast to 3.5 % in Bulgaria and Latvia and just 3.2 % in Lithuania. The high share of total deaths from lung cancer in the Netherlands reflected the fact that this country ranked second both for men and women (at 9.2 % and 5.6 %, respectively); the share of deaths from lung cancer among men peaked in Greece at 9.9 % and among women in Denmark at 6.7 %.

In 2013, the EU-28 standardised death rate for lung cancer was 55.2 per 100 000 inhabitants, higher than the rates for the three other types of cancer presented in this article. An analysis by gender and by age shows large differences in the standardised death rates for lung cancer: for men the rate was 87.8 per 100 000 inhabitants, nearly three times as high as for women (30.6 per 100 000 inhabitants). As is typical for cancers as a whole, the standardised death rate for lung cancer for persons aged 65 and over (200.1 per 100 000 inhabitants) was many times higher than it was for younger persons: for persons aged less than 65 the rate was 20.1 per 100 000 inhabitants.

Among the EU Member States, by far the highest standardised death rate for lung cancer in 2013 was recorded in Hungary (89.0 per 100 000 inhabitants), followed by Denmark, Poland and the Netherlands with rates between 67 and 72 per 100 000 inhabitants. Sweden, Portugal and Cyprus were the only Member States to record standardised death rates for lung cancer that were below 40.0 per 100 000 inhabitants. Sweden had by far the lowest standardised death rate among the EU Member States for males, at 43.3 deaths per 100 000 inhabitants, compared with the next lowest death rate which was 64.9 per 100 000 inhabitants in Finland. For females the lowest standardised death rates for lung cancer were in Portugal, Lithuania and Cyprus, each below 15.0 per 100 000 inhabitants.

More than 580 thousand in-patient discharges for lung cancer

Based on available data for EU Member States (2014 data except: 2013 data for Belgium, 2012 data for the Netherlands; no data for Estonia and Greece), there were 586 thousand discharges of lung cancer in-patients.

From Figure 1 it can be seen that the highest discharge rate for in-patients was in Hungary, where 295 in-patients per 100 000 inhabitants were discharged after diagnosis or treatment for lung cancer in 2014. In Austria and Germany, this rate was above 250 discharges per 100 000 inhabitants. Elsewhere the rate ranged from around 50 discharges per 100 000 inhabitants in Malta and Portugal to 174 discharges per 100 000 inhabitants in Slovenia.

The average length of stay for lung cancer in-patients was typically 0.5 to 3 days longer than for all in-patients having been treated for neoplasms

Among the EU Member States for which data are available (see Figure 1), in 2014, the average length of stay for lung cancer in-patients ranged from less than 6.0 days in the Netherlands (2012 data), Cyprus and Bulgaria to a peak of 12.2 days in Luxembourg. The average length of stay for lung cancer in-patients was typically longer than the average for all in-patients having been treated for neoplasms (whether malignant (cancer), in situ or benign): in most Member States the difference was an extra 0.5 to 2.8 days, peaking at an extra 3.2 days in France. However, in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, the Netherlands (2012 data) and Slovenia the average length of stay for lung cancer in-patients was shorter than the average for all in-patients having been treated for neoplasms.

Colorectal cancer

Cyprus had the lowest share of deaths from colorectal cancer

In 2013, almost 153 000 people died from colorectal cancer in the EU-28, equivalent to 11.8 % of all deaths from cancer and 3.1 % of the total number of deaths from any cause — see Table 2. The share of deaths attributed to colorectal cancer was 3.4 % for men and 2.7 % for women, representing a much narrower range than observed for lung cancer.

Among the EU Member States, the share of the total number of deaths that were attributed to colorectal cancer peaked at 4.1 % in Slovenia, falling to around half this share in Cyprus (2.2 %) with shares below 2.5 % also recorded in Lithuania, Greece, Finland, Romania, Latvia and Bulgaria.

Among the EU Member States, Cyprus also recorded the lowest share of deaths attributed to colorectal cancer for females (2.0 %), while the lowest shares for males was in Latvia (2.2 %). Slovenia recorded the highest share for males (4.9 %), while Hungary and Luxembourg reached the highest share for females (both 3.5 %). For most EU Member States the share of deaths for colorectal cancer was higher for males than for females. However, several EU Member States with relatively low overall shares of deaths from colorectal cancer reported lower shares among men than among women and this was the case in Latvia and Estonia.

In 2013, the EU-28 standardised death rate for colorectal cancer was 31.3 per 100 000 inhabitants, almost three fifths as high as the rate for lung cancer. An analysis by sex shows some gender difference in the standardised death rates for colorectal cancer: for men the rate was 74 % higher than for women, but much less than for lung cancer.

As is typical for cancers as a whole, the standardised death rate for colorectal cancer for persons aged 65 and over was many times higher than it was for younger persons. When expressed as a ratio, the rate for persons aged 65 and over was 18 times as high as it was for younger persons, a higher ratio than for lung cancer (10 times as high) and also higher than the ratio for all cancers (13 times as high).

As for lung cancer, the highest standardised death rate for colorectal cancer among the EU Member States in 2013 was recorded in Hungary (56.4 per 100 000 inhabitants), followed by Slovakia and Croatia also with rates over 50.0 per 100 000 inhabitants. Finland, Greece and Cyprus were the only Member States to record standardised death rates for colorectal cancer that were below 25.0 per 100 000 inhabitants.

Slovakia had the highest standardised death rates for colorectal cancer among men and Hungary among women, while Cyprus recorded the lowest rates both for men and women. In all EU Member States, standardised death rates for colorectal cancer were higher among men than among women. The closest rates were in Sweden, Denmark, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, where the rates for men were less than 50 % higher than for women. By contrast, in Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Croatia, Spain, Hungary, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Portugal the rates for men were more than double the rates for women.

Based on available data for the EU Member States (2014 data except: 2013 data for Belgium, 2012 data for the Netherlands; no data for Estonia and Greece), there were 629 thousand discharges of colorectal cancer in-patients.

As for lung cancer, Hungary reported the highest discharge rate for colorectal cancer

The highest discharge rate for colorectal cancer in-patients was in Hungary, where 277 in-patients per 100 000 inhabitants were discharged in 2014 (see Figure 2). In Croatia, Austria, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta and Germany, this rate was also in excess of 200 discharges per 100 000 inhabitants. The lowest discharge rate for colorectal cancer was reported for Ireland, 64 discharges per 100 000 inhabitants.

In most EU Member States, the average length of stay for colorectal cancer in-patients was more than two days longer than the average for all in-patients having been treated for neoplasms

In 2014, among the EU Member States for which data are available (see Figure 2), the average length of stay for colorectal cancer in-patients ranged from 6.7 days in Bulgaria to 13.6 days in Italy, with Malta and Cyprus below this range with averages of 5.0 and 5.7 days respectively. As such, in most Member States the average length of stay for colorectal cancer in-patients was more than two days longer than the average for all in-patients having been treated for neoplasms (whether malignant cancer, in situ or benign).

The indicator on colorectal screening presented here follows the Council recommendation and refers to the population aged 50 to 74 who reported having had a faecal occult blood test. The second wave of the European health interview survey (EHIS) was conducted between 2013 and 2015 and through this survey people were asked when they had most recently been screened for colorectal cancer. Germany and Austria had by far the highest proportion of the population aged 50 to 74 having been screened for colorectal cancer, around four fifths. Apart from these two countries, a majority of respondents in Slovenia, the Czech Republic, France and Latvia also reported that they had been screened for colorectal cancer. However, in most EU Member States, as well as in Norway and Turkey, only a minority of respondents aged 50 to 74 had ever been screened, the lowest proportions being registered in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania (all below 10 %).

In a large majority of participating EU Member States, more than half of the people who had been screened reported that this screening had occurred within the previous two years, peaking at 85 % in France. By contrast, in Estonia, Poland and Hungary, less than two fifths of people who had been screened reported that this had been within the previous two years. A gender analysis of those who had never been screened shows the strongest differences in Lithuania and Luxembourg: more men than women had never been screened in Lithuania while the reverse situation was observed in Luxembourg.

Breast cancer

In Malta, Luxembourg and Ireland, around 5 % of deaths among women were from breast cancer

In 2013, around 93.5 thousand people died from breast cancer in the EU-28, of which just less than one thousand were men and the vast majority (92.5 thousand) were women. As such, deaths from breast cancer made up around 7.2 % of all deaths from cancer; among women, breast cancer accounted for 16.2 % of all deaths from cancer.

Compared with all causes of deaths (not just those from cancer), breast cancer was the main cause of death for 1.9 % of the total number of deaths in the EU-28 (see Table 3); among women, breast cancer accounted for 3.7 % of all deaths. Across the EU Member States, the share of deaths from breast cancer (among women) reached 5.2 % in Malta, 4.9 % in Luxembourg and 4.8 % in Ireland, while this share was below 3.0 % in Latvia, Romania, Lithuania, Estonia and Bulgaria.

In 2013, the EU-28 standardised death rate for breast cancer was 33.2 per 100 000 inhabitants for women and 0.5 per 100 000 inhabitants for men. As is typical for cancers as a whole, the standardised death rate for breast cancer for persons aged 65 and over (67.0 per 100 000 inhabitants) was many times higher than it was for younger persons (7.4 per 100 000 inhabitants). Nevertheless, this age difference was somewhat narrower than for all malignant neoplasms: when expressed as a ratio, the standardised death rate for breast cancer among persons aged 65 and over was 9 times as high as it was for younger persons, a lower ratio than for all cancers (13 times as high).

Among the EU Member States, the highest standardised death rate for breast cancer among women was recorded in Croatia (41.3 per 100 000 inhabitants), followed by Malta, Ireland and Slovakia where it also surpassed 40 per 100 000 inhabitants. Five EU Member States recorded standardised death rates for breast cancer that were below 30.0 per 100 000 inhabitants: Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Portugal and Spain.

In three quarters of the EU Member States, the standardised death rate for women for breast cancer in 2013 was higher than that for lung cancer, the most notable exceptions being Denmark, Hungary, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, where the difference was at least 10 per 100 000 inhabitants.

Based on available data for the EU Member States (2014 data except: 2013 data for Belgium, 2012 data for the Netherlands; no data for Estonia and Greece), there were 556 thousand discharges of breast cancer in-patients.

Austria and Germany recorded the highest in-patient discharge rates for breast cancer

From Figure 4 it can be seen that the highest discharge rates for in-patients in 2014 were in Austria and Germany, where more than 200 in-patients per 100 000 inhabitants were discharged after diagnosis or treatment for breast cancer. In the remaining EU Member States the in-patient discharge rate for breast cancer was less than 200 discharges per 100 000 inhabitants, falling below 100 discharges per 100 000 inhabitants in 14 Member States; Ireland recorded the lowest rate, with 52 discharges per 100 000 inhabitants.

The average length of stay for breast cancer in-patients was longest in Germany

In 2014, among the 26 EU Member States for which data are available (see Figure 4), the average length of stay for breast cancer in-patients ranged from 2.6 days in Denmark to a peak of 10.2 days in Germany. A comparison with the average length of stay for all in-patients having been treated for neoplasms shows that in nearly all Member States the average length of stay for breast cancer in-patients was shorter. In Portugal, Italy, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Spain, the average length of stay for breast cancer in-patients was at least 4.0 days shorter, while in a further four Member States the average length of stay was more than 3.0 days shorter than for all in-patients having been treated for neoplasms. Only in four EU Member States the average length of stay for breast cancer patients was not shorter than for all in-patients having been treated for neoplasms, most notably in Lithuania, Germany and Slovakia where longer average lengths of stay were observed for breast cancer patients and in Malta where it was the same as for all in-patients having been treated for neoplasms.

Breast cancer screening rates of 80 % or higher in Portugal, Denmark, Finland and Spain

Most of the data presented in Figure 5 for breast cancer screening are administrative data from screening programmes although some are from surveys. The data generally show the proportion of women aged 50–69 years who had received a mammography within the previous two years. Overall, the rates are much higher than reported for colorectal screening. Data are available for 25 Member States for 2014 (in some cases data are from 2012, 2013 or 2015). In 15 of these, screening rates were 61 % or lower, falling to a low of 6 % in Romania. These were mainly Member States that joined the EU in 2004 or more recently, although Luxembourg, Italy, Germany (2012 data) and France were also in this group. Portugal, Denmark, Finland and Spain reported rates 80 % or higher. The remaining six Member States — the Netherlands, Slovenia, Ireland, Belgium (2013 data), the United Kingdom and Austria — reported rates between 73 % and 79 %.

A comparison of data for the two years shown in Figure 5 indicates that breast cancer screening rates increased during the period concerned in a small majority of Member States, with particularly large increases observed in Lithuania, Latvia and the Czech Republic. In those Member States where screening rates fell between the two years shown, the reductions were relatively small, with the largest fall in Slovenia (from 85 % to 79 % between 2010 and 2014).

Figure 6 indicates the availability of equipment solely intended for conducting mammographies. Relative to the size of population, this type of equipment was most widely available in Greece (2013 data) and Cyprus (2014 data). Comparing the data presented in Figures 5 and 6 it can be noted that breast cancer screening rates in Portugal and Luxembourg were relatively high compared with the availability of mammography units, implying a higher average intensity of use or a greater use for screening of units other than ones solely for mammographies. By contrast, relatively low screening rates were observed in Cyprus and Bulgaria combined with a relatively high availability of mammography units.

Prostate cancer

In Sweden the standardised death rate for prostate cancer for men was higher than the equivalent rate for lung cancer

In 2013, 72.7 thousand men died from prostate cancer in the EU-28 (see Table 4), equivalent to 5.6 % of all deaths from cancer and 1.5 % of the total number of deaths from any cause. As all of these deaths occurred among men, the share of male deaths attributed to prostate cancer was 2.9 %, approximately double the share for the whole population.

Among the EU Member States, the share of all deaths among men that were attributed to prostate cancer was as low as 1.7 % in Romania and 1.8 % in Bulgaria, but peaked at more than three times this share in Sweden (5.4 %).

In 2013, the EU-28 standardised death rate for prostate cancer was 39.4 per 100 000 male inhabitants, slightly lower than the equivalent rate for men for colorectal cancer (41.6 per 100 000 inhabitants). As is typical for cancers as a whole, the standardised death rate for prostate cancer for men aged 65 and over was many times higher than it was for younger men. When expressed as a ratio, the rate for men aged 65 and over was 74 times as high as it was for younger men, a much higher ratio than for all cancers (13 times as high), underlining the fact that this is a form of cancer that particularly affects older men.

In the Scandinavian countries and Baltic Member States, standardised death rates for prostate cancer, in 2014, were 60.0 per 100 000 male inhabitants or higher. Rates of less than half that level were reported by Luxembourg and Malta.

Despite the standardised death rate for men for prostate cancer in the EU-28 as a whole being slightly lower than the equivalent rate for men for colorectal cancer, in a small majority (15) of EU Member States the reverse was true: the standardised death rate for men for prostate cancer was higher than that for colorectal cancer. Sweden was the only EU Member State where the standardised death rate for men for prostate cancer was higher than the equivalent rate for men for lung cancer.

Based on available data for the EU Member States (2014 data except: 2013 data for Belgium, 2012 data for the Netherlands; no data for Estonia and Greece), there were 274 thousand discharges of prostate cancer in-patients.

As for breast cancer, Austria and Germany reported the highest discharge rates for prostate cancer

The highest discharge rates for prostate cancer in-patients were in Austria and Germany, where more than 200 in-patients per 100 000 men were discharged in 2014 (see Figure 7). In 13 EU Member States the discharge rate for prostate cancer was below 100 discharges per 100 000 men, dropping as low as 30 discharges per 100 000 men in Cyprus and 22 discharges per 100 000 men in Malta.

Compared with the average for all neoplasms, the average length of stay for prostate cancer in-patients was particularly long in Malta

In 2014, among the EU Member States for which data are available (see Figure 7 for availability), the average length of stay for male prostate cancer in-patients ranged from 5.7 days in Spain to 11.4 days in Ireland, with Sweden, the Netherlands (2012 data), Bulgaria and Denmark below this range and Malta and Lithuania above it. The average length of stay for prostate cancer in-patients was quite similar to the average for all male in-patients having been treated for neoplasms (whether malignant cancer, in situ or benign): in most Member States the average stay for prostate cancer was less than two and a half days longer or shorter than the average for all neoplasms. However, in Spain and Portugal (2010 data) the average length of stay for prostate cancer in-patients was 3.0 and 5.0 days shorter respectively, while in Lithuania and Malta the average lengths of stay were respectively 3.9 and 14.2 days longer.

Data sources and availability

Key concepts

An in-patient is a patient who is formally admitted (or ‘hospitalised’) to an institution for treatment and/or care and stays for a minimum of one night or more than 24 hours in the hospital or other institution providing in-patient care. An in-patient or day care patient is discharged from hospital when formally released after a procedure or course of treatment (episode of care). A discharge may occur because of the finalisation of treatment, signing out against medical advice, transfer to another healthcare institution, or because of death.

The number of deaths from a particular cause of death can be expressed relative to the size of the population. A standardised (rather than crude) death rate can be compiled which is independent of the age and sex structure of a population: this is done as most causes of death vary significantly by age and according to sex and the standardisation facilitates comparisons of rates over time and between countries.

Causes of death

Statistics on causes of death provide information on mortality patterns, supplying information on developments over time in the underlying causes of death. This source is documented in more detail in this background article which provides information on the scope of the data, its legal basis, the methodology employed, as well as related concepts and definitions.

Causes of death are classified according to the European shortlist (86 causes), which is based on the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD). Chapter II of the ICD covers neoplasms, including (among others):

  • C15–C26 Malignant neoplasms of digestive organs, including (among others);
    • C18 Malignant neoplasm of colon;
    • C19 Malignant neoplasm of rectosigmoid junction;
    • C20 Malignant neoplasm of rectum;
    • C21 Malignant neoplasm of anus and anal canal;
  • C30–C39 Malignant neoplasms of respiratory and intrathoracic organs, including (among others);
    • C33–34 Malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus and lung;
  • C50–C50 Malignant neoplasm of breast;
  • C60–C63 Malignant neoplasms of male genital organs, including (among others);
    • C61 Malignant neoplasm of prostate.

For country specific notes on this data collection, please refer to this background information document.

Healthcare resources and activities

Statistics on healthcare resources (such as personnel and medical equipment) and healthcare activities (such as information on surgical operations, procedures and hospital discharges) are documented in this background article which provides information on the scope of the data, its legal basis, the methodology employed, as well as related concepts and definitions.

For hospital discharges and the length of stay in hospitals, the International Shortlist for Hospital Morbidity Tabulation (ISHMT) is used to classify data from 2000 onwards; Chapter II covers neoplasms and includes the following headings (among others):

  • Malignant neoplasm of colon, rectum and anus (0201);
  • Malignant neoplasms of trachea, bronchus and lung (0202);
  • Malignant neoplasm of breast (0204);
  • Malignant neoplasm of prostate (0207).

For country specific notes on this data collection, please refer to this background information document.

Self-reported data on screening for colorectal cancer (referring to the population aged 50 to 74 who reported having had a faecal occult blood test) come from the European health interview survey (EHIS) and are available for more than half of the EU Member States and for Turkey. This source is documented in more detail in this background article which provides information on the scope of the data, its legal basis, the methodology employed, as well as related concepts and definitions.

Data on screening for breast cancer (referring to the population aged 50 to 69) come from survey or programme-based data. This source is documented in more detail in this background article which provides information on the scope of the data, its legal basis, the methodology employed, as well as related concepts and definitions.

Context

The most frequently occurring forms of cancer in the EU are colorectal, breast, prostate and lung cancers. Among men, lung cancer and colorectal cancer are the most frequent causes of death from cancer, while among women, breast cancer and lung cancer are the most common causes.

Primary prevention offers the most cost-effective, long-term strategy for reducing the European burden of diseases. It involves tackling major health determinants, such as smoking, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity. The European Commission has supported many projects related to health determinants and health promotion in general.

Secondary prevention aims to reduce mortality by early detection of cancer through screening. In December 2003, a Council Recommendation on cancer screening was adopted, setting out principles of best practice in the early detection of cancer. This invited EU Member States to take common action to implement national population-based screening programmes for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer, with appropriate quality assurance at all levels. In September 2014, the European Commission adopted its second report on the implementation of the Council Recommendation noting that the number of adults surviving for at least five years after diagnosis has risen steadily over time across the EU, reflecting major advances in cancer management such as organised cancer screening programmes and improved treatments.

See also

Online publications

Health status — selected diseases and related health problems

Causes of death

Healthcare activities

Methodology

General health statistics articles

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Main tables

Database

Health care resources (hlth_res)
Health care staff (hlth_staff)
Health care facilities (hlth_facil)
Health care activities (hlth_act)
Hospital discharges and length of stay for inpatient and curative care (hlth_co_dischls)
Hospital discharges - National data (hlth_hosd)
Length of stay in hospital (hlth_hostay)
Operations, procedures and treatment (hlth_oper)
General mortality (hlth_cd_gmor)
Causes of death - Deaths by country of residence and occurrence (hlth_cd_aro)
Causes of death — Standardised death rate by residence (hlth_cd_asdr2)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

External links