Background: Information on cancer prevalence is either absent or largely unavailable for central European countries. Materials and methods: Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland cover a population of 13 million inhabitants. Cancer registries in these countries supplied incidence and survival data for 465 000 cases of cancer. The prevalence of stomach, colon, rectum, lung, breast, cervix uteri, corpus uteri and prostate cancer, as well as skin melanoma, Hodgkin's disease, leukaemia and all malignant neoplasms combined was estimated for the end of 1992. Results: A large heterogeneity was observed within central European countries. For all cancers combined, estimates ranged from 730 per 100 000 in Poland (men) to 3350 per 100 000 in Germany (women). Overall cancer prevalence was the highest in Germany and Switzerland, and the lowest in Poland and Slovenia. In Slovakia, prevalence was higher than average for men and lower than average for women. This was observed for almost all ages. As shown by incidence data, breast cancer was the most frequent malignancy among women in all countries. Among men, prostate cancer was the leading malignancy in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and lung cancer was the major cancer in Slovenia, Slovakia and Poland. The Netherlands had a high prevalence of both prostate and lung cancer. Time-related magnitude of prevalence within each country and the variability of such proportions across the countries has been estimated and cancer prevalence is given by time since diagnosis (1 year, 1-5 years, 5-10 years, >10 years) for each site. The weight of 1-year prevalence (248 per 100 000 among men and 253 per 100 000 among women) was <15% of total prevalence. Prevalent cases between 1 and 5 years since diagnosis represented between 22% and 34% of the total prevalence. Prevalent cases diagnosed from 5 to 10 years before (335 per 100 000 for men and 505 per 100 000 for women) represented between 17% and 23% of prevalent cancers. Finally, long-term cancer prevalence (diagnosed >10 years before), reflecting long-term survival, and number of people considered as cured from cancer were 490 per 100 000 for men and 1028 per 100 000 for women, with a range between 26% (The Netherlands, men) and 50% (Slovakia, women). Conclusion: It is clear from observing countries in Central Europe, that high cancer prevalence is associated with well-developed economies. This burden of cancer could be interpreted as a paradoxical effect of better treatments and thereby survival. It could also be taken as a sign for not being satisfied with the advances in treating patients diagnosed with cancer, and for supporting more primary prevention.
- Cancer registries
- Central Europe