The age-standardized incidence and mortality rates in 2002 for the 15 countries that originally formed the EU (Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, Great Britain, Ireland, Finland, and Sweden) and for Poland were extracted from GLOBOCAN 2002, a project of the International Agency for Research on Cancer.1
Polish and EU incident and mortality rates in 2006 were derived from the Boyle and Ferlay best estimates for Europe.6
The primary types of cancer with the highest age-adjusted incidence rates in 2002 were breast, colorectal, and lung cancer in the 15 EU countries; and lung, colorectal, and breast cancer in Poland. In 2006 in the EU, the most common form of cancer was prostate cancer followed by breast and colorectal cancers. In Poland, the most frequent types were lung, breast, and colorectal cancers.
All cancer incident and mortality rates increased in 2006 compared with 2002, both in the EU and in Poland. The highest mortality rates were due to the same causes in the time period 2002–2006 for lung, colorectal, and breast cancers alternately in the EU and in Poland ().
Age-standardized incidence and mortality rates in the EU and Poland per 100,000 people, in 2002 and 2006, by site and year (both sexes combined)
In 2002 and 2006, breast cancer was by far the most frequent cancer diagnosed among women in the EU and Poland, and higher breast cancer incident and mortality rates were recorded among women in the EU than in Poland. Breast cancer remains the leading cause of death and it is crucial to organize immediate population programs promoting breast self-examination and facilitating access to mammography screenings. In 2002, colorectal and uterine cancers were the second and third most common forms of cancer among women in the EU, while uterine cancer was the second major threat for women in Poland. This is mainly because women from EU countries are more aware of the necessity to conduct cervical screening tests. Such tests have proven to be an effective and improved way to detect cancer in an early (curable) stage of the disease.7
In 2006, the incident rates of all cancer types (excluding stomach cancer) among women were slightly higher in Poland and in the EU than in 2002, but lung cancer started to be more of a health hazard for women in Poland, with a doubled incident rate at 28.6 in 2006 compared with an incident rate equal to 14.6 in 2002. Polish women also continued to have the highest mortality rate due to lung cancer in 2006. Despite various tobacco-control policies (i.e., raising taxes on tobacco products, restricted access to tobacco products for people younger than age 18, a ban on tobacco advertising),8
there are still many women in Poland who smoke ( and ).
Age-standardized incidence and mortality rates in the EU and Poland per 100,000 people, by site and sex, in 2002
Age-standardized incidence and mortality rates in the EU and Poland per 100,000 people, by site and sex, in 2006
During 2002–2006, lung cancer continued to be the biggest threat for Polish men. In the EU, it was the second most serious health threat after prostate cancer (the incident rates were 56.7 in 2002 and 118.0 in 2006). Mortality rates due to lung cancer were highest in the EU and Poland compared with other cancer types. It is worth emphasizing that tobacco-control programs should be the top priority both in Poland and in the EU. Prostate cancer incident rates in 2006 were much higher than in 2002, and it was the second biggest problem in 2006 for Polish men after lung cancer (with incidence rates of 24.1 in 2002 and 51.0 in 2006). These figures seem to be the result of a rapid increase of the number of men aged 65 and older both in Poland and the EU ( and ).
Colorectal cancer incident rates for Polish men were similar to the corresponding rates for the EU, while mortality rates of men in Poland were slightly higher. An increase of colorectal cancer incident and mortality rates was observed in 2006 compared with 2002. There is a need to take measures aimed at improving the effectiveness of colorectal screenings, increasing physical activity, and modifying dietary habits. Significant progress has been observed in the case of stomach cancer where dietary modifications, better food preservation, and treatment of the Helicobacter pylori infection led to a decrease in the incident and mortality rates.9,10