Cancer number one cause of death in Netherlands

3rd February 2009, Comments 4 comments

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

4 Comments To This Article

  • Sebastian posted:

    on 3rd February 2009, 17:07:34 - Reply

    I agree with the opinion that, as far as I can see, the Dutch health system is not very interested in prevention. When I asked my doctor here about doing some yearly checkup, with some basic tests, he looked at me strange and asked: "Why, are you feeling sick?"

    I wonder how many of those people who died of cancer could have fared better if they would have done regular tests and someone would have noticed an early sign that something might be wrong.

    Doesn't make sense for insurance companies either. Treating diseases is expensive. Regular tests are cheap. Win-win situation?
  • Voodoo Doll posted:

    on 3rd February 2009, 15:59:17 - Reply

    oh just thought of this.... lung cancer stats here are no suprise this is a smoking culture whom allows Children to smoke, a culture again back where many countries were 20 years ago. It is a shame because once again we sure pay a hell of a lot in taxes to have such crap village medicine practices
  • Voodoo Doll posted:

    on 3rd February 2009, 15:56:07 - Reply

    maybe they could do MORE preventitive screening for cancers. I feel NL medicine in general is more reactive than proactive, when it comes to cancer, saving lives, then you need to be proactive, but it is costly to do so.
    For example they test woman for cervical cancer after age 35, and then only every 5 years... they do not even have gynecologist exams, you must have a problem BEFORE you can see one. The GP or huisarts is whom you see and my experience with the huisarts here show they are little more than glorified nurses. Mine almost always has to call on a specialist, look in her books for simple matters etc. She is not very knowledgeable and hardly proactive.
    I have yet so been asked about a skin screening for skin cancer, shown how to check for breast cancer.... I feel its pathetic
  • x posted:

    on 3rd February 2009, 11:55:19 - Reply

    Don t you think that the low prevention in the Netherlands could be the cause?

    If you look at France, Spain... they have much more drastic prevention: gynecologic test every year for women after 25 years old, specialist visits instead of generalist who cannot be aware of everything...