Cancer and chronic disease causes almost half of gradual deaths in Europe

September 17, 2012, British Medical Journal

Cancer and chronic disease account for almost half of gradual deaths in European Union countries, suggests research published online in BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care.

While there are variations in the absolute numbers across all 27 (EU) countries, the figures suggest a need for both long and short term palliative care strategies to accommodate this trend, say the authors.

They base their findings on certifications for all deaths that were not sudden in all 27 European countries in 2007, although the most up to date information in some (Bulgaria, Belgium, Denmark and Malta) only went up to 2004 or 2006.

The total EU population for the study period totalled 495 million, of whom 4.8 million died. Of these, 2 million died of cancer (1 in 4); chronic heart failure (around 1 in 20); chronic respiratory disease; diabetes; chronic liver failure; dementia; neurological diseases; chronic kidney failure; and HIV/AIDS.

Taken together, the crude death rate per 100,000 of the population was 409 for cancer and chronic disease in 2007, although this varied considerably across all the countries. This figure compares with 594 per 100,000 of the population for sudden deaths.

The rate was highest in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Denmark and lowest in Cyprus, Ireland, and Slovakia.

As the crude death rate does not factor in age or gender, it was then looked at specifically in those aged 65 and over, giving an overall figure of 1783 compared with 2789 for sudden deaths.

Bulgaria, Denmark and The Netherlands topped the list of countries with the highest rates among the older age groups, while Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia had the lowest rates.

Generally, countries with relatively high crude rates for cancer and had relatively low rates for sudden deaths among those aged 65 and over.

On the basis of this figure, and extrapolating reported data on symptom prevalence, thousands of people would have experienced symptoms such as pain, depression, anxiety, confusion, fatigue and breathlessness before they died, say the authors.

The authors conclude that as the population continues to survive into old age, the numbers dying of and chronic disease is going to increase, requiring strategies and facilities to alleviate these symptoms and improve the quality of life.

Explore further: New estimates predict nearly 1.3 million deaths from cancer in the EU in 2012

More information: The burden of non-acute dying on society: dying of cancer and chronic disease in the European Union, doi 10.1136/bmjspcare-2011-000162

Related Stories

New estimates predict nearly 1.3 million deaths from cancer in the EU in 2012

February 29, 2012
New figures published today (Wednesday) estimate that there will be nearly 1.3 million deaths from cancer in 2012 in the European Union (EU) – 717,398 men and 565,703 women. Although the actual numbers have increased, ...

US performs worst on potentially preventable death rates compared to France, Germany, and the UK

August 29, 2012
The United States lags three other industrialized nations—France, Germany, and the United Kingdom—in its potentially preventable death rate, and in the pace of improvement in preventing deaths that could have been avoided ...

Study reveals increased inequality in stroke deaths across Europe and central Asia

April 12, 2011
There is growing inequality between different countries in Europe and central Asia in the proportion of people who die from stroke, according to a study published online today in the European Heart Journal.

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.