Cancer number one cause of death in Netherlands
Netherlands Statistics, or CBS, reports that for the first time, more people have died of cancer than of cardiovascular diseases, making cancer the number one cause of death in the Netherlands.
THE HAGUE—In 2008, 33,900 people died of cancer compared to 33,100 of a cardiovascular disease. The CBS says cancer has become the main cause of death because mortality rates for cancer are dropping much slower than those for cardiovascular diseases.
Cancer has been the leading cause of death for men in the Netherlands since 2005. Cardiovascular disease is still the number one cause of death for women, but cancer is a close second.
In 1970 heart and vascular disease formed 45 percent of deaths; cancer was at 23 percent. In 2008 both were at about 30 percent.
Heart disease is continually on the rise, says Research Director Mat Daemen of the Research Institute CARIM of the University of Maastricht. “There are always more people admitted to hospitals for heart disease; They simply don’t die of it.”
The main reason for this is early diagnosis, such as treating people at risk for heart attack, namely, those with high colesterol and high blood pressure. The use of angioplasty over stents also accounts for an improved outcome for heart patients.
The reason that cancer mortality rates haven’t decreased as fast is because there haven’t been any recent revolutionary treatments for cancer, says Floor van Leeuwen, Professor Emeritus of the Netherlands Cancer Institute. “The treatments are constantly improving, but they’re small steps. With specific tumours there’ve been some major improvements, but with the ‘big killers’ there still hasn’t been a big breakthrough.”
Not much has changed in cancer prevention, either, she says. “Of course we have the screening for breast and cervical cancers, but we haven’t added anything to that.” Possibilities for improvement do remain. Van Leeuwen expects screening for colon cancer, since such screening has proven successful in other countries. “For this, people have to provide fecal samples. It remains to be seen if this would work in practice here.”
Most of the deaths to cancer in 2008 were from lung cancer. Prostate cancer and breast cancer come in second, followed by colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and esophageal cancer.
Death from breast cancer is decreasing, while prostate cancer is on the rise.
Radio Netherlands/de Volkskrant/Expatica