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Breast cancer death rates continue to fall in UK

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by In collaboration with PA Media Group | News

19 March 2019

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Breast cancer death rates will fall in the UK and across nearly all EU countries in 2019, a new study predicts.

The UK is expected to record the greatest decrease out of the 6 largest EU countries, with a 13% drop predicted in 2019.

It is the ninth year the annual predictions led by Professor Carlo La Vecchia, from the University of Milan, have been published.

Death rates from breast cancer in the EU are forecast to fall from 14.6 per 100,000 women in 2014, to 13.4 per 100,000 in 2019, a drop of 8.7%*.

A decrease is expected in every EU country apart from Poland, according to the study published in the journal Annals of Oncology.

Jon Shelton, Cancer Research UK’s cancer statistics manager, said: “Breast cancer death rates have been falling for decades thanks to advances in early detection and treatment of the disease, and the introduction of breast cancer screening.”

Population changes

While death rates are falling, the researchers said that the overall number of EU deaths from breast cancer will increase in 2019 due to a growing and ageing population.

“In 2014 there were 92,000 deaths from breast cancer in Europe and in 2019 we are predicting 92,800,” La Vecchia said.

“This means the burden of the disease will continue to increase, with consequent implications for public health and costs to society.

Of the 6 largest EU countries, the UK has the greatest predicted decrease in breast cancer death rates for 2019 (13%), followed by France (10%), Germany (9%), Italy (7%), Spain (5%), while in Poland there is a predicted 2% increase.

In the UK, the researchers predict there will be 13.3 breast cancer deaths per 100,000 women in 2019, compared to 15.4 per 100,000 in 2014*.

The number of UK breast cancer deaths will also drop from 11,384 in 2014 to 10,700 in 2019, they suggest.

“We expect this trend to continue and estimate that female breast cancer death rates will fall further by around 20 per cent over the next 15 years,” said Shelton.

“But there’s plenty we can do to prevent the disease developing in the first place, such as maintaining a healthy weight and cutting down on alcohol.”

Breast cancer is expected to remain as the second biggest cancer killer for EU women, after lung cancer, in 2019.

*The researchers used the World Standard Population for age standardisation. This is different to the figures seen on our website which use the European Standard Population. For more information on these populations visit this link.

Malvezzi, M et al. (2019) European cancer mortality predictions for the year 2019 with focus on breast cancer. Annals of Oncology, mdz051,