5 September 2021

Thousands of prostate cancer deaths to 2050 will be avoided by screening

Around a third of a million men have avoided death from prostate cancer in European countries over the past three decades because of advances in prevention and understanding of the disease, according to a new analysis.

Researchers led by Carlo La Vecchia from the University of Milan, Italy, estimated the number of averted cancer deaths in the EU27 over the period 1989-2021 using mortality and population figures from the World Health Organization and Eurostat databases. They calculated that the total number of cancer deaths avoided by improved prevention and detection was nearly five million over the 32-year period.

The number of avoided deaths for prostate cancer was 352,000; breast cancer 300,000; stomach cancer 1,679,000; colorectal cancer 747,000, bladder cancer 227,000; leukemias 102,000.

“Progress in cancer epidemiology and prevention has been a key determinant of the fall in cancer mortality in Europe,” write the authors in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention.

They predict that further improvements in prevention and detection could avoid a third of cancer deaths in the period up to 2050.

“Control of alcohol, overweight and obesity, and occupational and environmental carcinogens may avoid an additional 10% of cancer deaths,” they write. “A similar reduction may be due to optimal adoption of cervical, colorectal, breast, and probably, lung and prostate cancer screening.”