Cancer mortality constitutes a major health burden in Europe. Trends are different for men and women, and across Europe. This study aims to map out Belgian cancer mortality trends for the most common cancer types in both sexes between 1979 and 2010, and to link these with trends in cancer mortality and smoking prevalence across Europe.


Mortality and population data were obtained from the World Health Organization Mortality Database. Age-standardized mortality rates were calculated by direct standardization using the European Standard Population.


Belgian mortality decreased for the most common cancer sites between 1979 and 2010, except for female lung cancer. Yet, Belgian male lung and female breast cancer rates remain high compared with the remainder of Western Europe. For some cancer sites, mortality trends are similar among the European Regions (e.g. stomach cancer), yet for others trends are divergent (e.g. colorectal cancer).


Generally, cancer mortality shows a favorable trend in Belgium and Europe. Yet, female lung cancer mortality rates are increasing in Belgium. Furthermore, Belgium still has higher male lung and female breast cancer mortality rates compared with the European regional averages. Considering this and the current smoking prevalence, enduring tobacco control efforts should be made.

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