Majority of EU citizens die from cancer

"The aim of this study was to identify the number of people in Europe who are struggling with cancer and chronic diseases", not least to assess the impact of demographic change and regional disparities, reports the research team headed by Radboud University's Jeroen HasselaarMedical Center( Nijmegen, Netherlands) in the journal "BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care".In the evaluation of the four million death certificates, the researchers found that about every second death is due to cancer or a chronic disease. They also registered significant differences between Member States.

investigated more than four million deaths among EU citizens
In collaboration with scientists from the University Hospital Gasthuisberg Leuven( Belgium), the University of Bonn, the Malteser Hospital Bonn / Rhein-Sieg and the University of Göttingen, Jeroen Hasselaar had 4.1 million death certificates from deceased personsfrom 27 EU member states. Death certificates were mostly from 2007, and in a few cases from 2006 or 2004. Researchers hypothesized that "due to the aging of the European population, non-acute deaths are likely to increase."Cancer is the most common cause of death across Europe. According to the international team of researchers, around two million of the four million deaths reported are due to such a non-acute cause of death.

cancer is the leading cause of death in the European Union
Around a quarter of the four million deaths reported were caused by cancer, according to the researchers. This makes cancer the number one cause of death in the EU.Chronic heart disease( eg coronary heart disease) is the second most common cause of death among EU citizens - accounting for about five percent of all deaths. Other non-acute causes of death include chronic lung disease, liver disease with subsequent liver failure, and diabetes, as well as neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia. However, there were marked differences between EU countries, write Jeroen Hasselaar and colleagues in the article "The burden of non-acute dying on society: dying from cancer and chronic diseases in the European Union."

Regional differences in theDeath rate
According to the results of the international team of researchers, deaths from chronic diseases and cancer were the most frequent in terms of total number of deaths in Bulgaria, Denmark and Hungary. Chronic diseases and tumors were least likely to be involved in deaths in Ireland, Slovakia and Cyprus. In general, it can be observed that in the affluent countries chronic diseases and cancer are more often the cause of deaths, which researchers attribute to better medical care. People are getting older here and with age the risk of chronic diseases or the probability of a tumor increases, write Hasselaar and colleagues. However, why the Eastern Bloc countries are so far ahead in cancer despite a lower aging of the population, the researchers could not explain. There is a suspicion that this might be related to the higher environmental impact - possibly even the Chernobyl nuclear disaster - but the scientists around Jeroen Hasselaar have made no statement.

Deaths from chronic diseases and cancer will continue to increase
In total, the scientists calculated for chronic diseases and cancer a mortality rate of 409 deaths per 100,000 EU citizens. In Germany, this is 442 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants - well above the EU average. The relationship between the average age and mortality from chronic diseases or cancer becomes particularly clear when looking at data on EU citizens aged 65 and over. For them, the researchers calculated a mortality rate of 1,783 deaths per 100,000 people from non-acute diseases. This will more than triple the EU average for the whole population. According to Jeroen Hasselaar, as the average age of demographic change increases, deaths from chronic diseases and cancer will continue to increase.

Improving the care of patients with chronic diseases or cancer
Their study results illustrate the significance of chronic diseases and cancer in future deaths in the EU and the strain to be expected on society, write Hasselaar and colleagues. It is also becoming clear how important the care of patients with chronic diseases and terminal cancer is. Millions of Europeans are already affected today and a further increase is foreseeable in the future. Future research should therefore bring the information gained in relation to the frequency of certain symptoms and the use of palliative care services, the researchers concluded. European politicians were also called upon to "consider regional differences in the development of long-term and short-term palliative care strategies".(fp)

EU: every second death from cancer or chronic diseases


About half of the deaths in the European Union are caused by cancer or chronic diseases. This is the result of a study by Dutch, Belgian and German researchers, in which more than four million death certificates were evaluated by EU citizens.

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