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News article14 December 2018

JRC and WHO scientists release indicators on the burden of cancer in Europe

Commission launches a new tool to report cancer burden statistics and trends across Europe
© Adobestock vitanovski

Scientists from the JRC and WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released the latest 2018 estimates on the burden of cancer in Europe. Cancer incidence and mortality indicators have been computed for 40 European countries on 34 types of cancer as well as for all cancer sites combined. These estimates are the joint outcome of a collaborative exercise led by IARC, in collaboration with JRC, the European Network of Cancer Registries and the International Association of Cancer Registries.

Estimates of national incidence and mortality rates for 2018 are based on statistical models applied to the most recently published data and, where possible, with predictions obtained from recent trends. The estimated rates have been applied to the population projections to obtain the estimated numbers of new cancer cases and deaths in Europe for 2018.

Europe accounts for 9% of the world's population but holds a 23.4% share of global cancer cases and a 20.3% share of cancer deaths. Europe, in 2018, stands to witness a total of 3.9 million new cases of cancer (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) and 1.93 million deaths.

The most common cancer sites are female breast (523,000 cases, 13.4%), followed by colorectal (500,000, 12.8%), lung (470,000, 12%) and prostate cancer (450,000, 11.5%).

These four cancers represent half of the overall burden of cancer in Europe.

EU28 estimated distribution of new cancer cases in 2018, all ages, both sexes
© EU, 2018

The most common causes of death from cancer are cancers of the lung (388,000 deaths, 20.1%), colorectum (243,000, 12.6%), breast (138,000, 7.1%) and pancreas (128,000, 6.6%). In the EU-28, the estimated number of new cases of cancer is approximately 1.6 million in males and 1.4 million in females (total of 3.0 million), with 790,000 men and 620,000 women (total of 1.4 million) dying from the disease.

This estimation of cancer incidence in Europe would not be possible without contributions from over 150 regional and national population-based cancer registries, based in 30 European countries. The JRC supports this European Network of Cancer Registries (ENCR) in a joint endeavour to promote collaboration between cancer registries, define data collection standards, provide training for cancer registry personnel and regularly disseminate information on incidence and mortality from cancer in the EU and Europe.

The new European Cancer Information System web application ECIS, developed and hosted by the JRC, provides recorded data and estimates of the cancer burden across Europe which enables the exploration of geographical patterns and temporal trends of incidence, mortality and survival data.

Read more in: J. Ferlay et al.: Cancer incidence and mortality patterns in Europe: Estimates for 40 countries and 25 major cancers in 2018, European Journal of Cancer 103(2018), 356-387, ISSN 0959-8049,

Related Content

Cancer incidence and mortality patterns in Europe: Estimates for 40 countries and 25 major cancers in 2018

ECIS - European Cancer Information System

ENCR - European Network of Cancer Registries


Publication date
14 December 2018