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Pancreatic cancer death rate increase predicted by EU research

1 May 2014

New European statistics show that death rates from pancreatic cancer and lung cancer are predicted to rise as death rates from other cancers will continue to fall.

Carried out by Italian and Swiss researchers, the study looked at overall cancer rates across each of the 27 EU member states. The study also focused on a number of specific cancer types in the six largest countries: the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain.

Overall, the findings predicted that death rates from all types of cancer combined will fall across Europe in 2014. However, for pancreatic cancer, increased death rates are predicted for both men and women and, for lung cancer, the effects of changing smoking patterns will result in increased death rates.

Professor Carlo La Vecchia, lead author of the study from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Milan, said: “This year we predict that 41,300 men and 41,000 women will die from pancreatic cancer – an age standardised rate of 8.1 and 5.6 deaths respectively per 100,000 of the population. This represents a small but steady increase since the beginning of the century.”

Although absolute numbers of all cancer deaths had increased over the last five years, the proportion of the population dying had decreased by seven per cent for men and five percent for women. However, with the five-year survival rate for people with pancreatic cancer currently standing at less than five per cent, Professor La Vecchia said that the team’s predictions were a “cause for concern”. “Tobacco, obesity, diabetes, high alcohol intake and a family history of pancreatic cancer are all recognised risk factors for the disease,” he said.

Maggie Blanks, Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund CEO, comments: “In the light of these findings, it’s more important than ever that more research into pancreatic cancer is funded, as the survival rate remains so low. PCRF is the only UK charity dedicated exclusively to funding research into the disease, and we and our supporters remain committed to fundraising in order that researchers can carry out their vital work.”

The study was published on 23 April in the journal, Annals of Oncology:
European cancer mortality predictions for the year 2013, DOI 10.1093/annonc/mdu138

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