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Int J Cancer. 2004 Dec 20;112(6):1056-64.

Breast cancer mortality patterns and time trends in 10 new EU member states: mortality declining in young women, but still increasing in the elderly.

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  • 1Unit of Descriptive Epidemiology, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France.


Breast cancer is the cancer diagnosed most frequently in women worldwide. In Europe it is the most common cancer in the female population, with approximately 350,000 new cases diagnosed each year including 130,000 deaths. Incidence rates are increasing in the majority of European countries, whereas a decline in mortality rates has been observed in many West European countries since the late 1980s and early 1990s. Our study examines breast cancer mortality patterns and time trends in the new European Union (EU) member states and compares them with the situation in current EU member states. A Joinpoint regression analysis was used to assess temporal changes in mortality rates and the trends examined in the light of known risk factors, screening programs and advances in treatment. In the majority of the countries analyzed, a deceleration in the increase of mortality rates appeared, followed by a decrease of mortality in many of them in the second half of the 1990s. The declining tendency was visible primarily in young women, and to a lesser extent in middle-aged women, whereas in elderly women a continuing increase of mortality was observed. Analysis of mortality data, information from previous publications, as well as analysis of known factors influencing breast cancer risk suggest that changes observed are due mainly to recent advances in treatment rather than changes in lifestyle risk factors or the result of screening programs. Early detection and a shift toward more favorable stage distribution could have played the leading role for mortality decline in younger patients.

(c) 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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