Cancer deaths have fallen significantly in the European Union in the past five years, and breast cancer death rates have dropped in the UK by over 10 per cent.
Italian and Swiss researchers looked at World Health Organisation (WHO) data, focusing on specific diseases including those affecting the stomach, lung, prostate, breast and womb.
Reporting in the journal Annals of Oncology, researchers estimate rates of 139 deaths per 100,000 men and 85 per 100,000 women in 2012. This represents a fall of 10 per cent for men and 7 per cent for women since 2007.
Along with Germany, the UK is predicted to have the lowest male cancer death rates in the EU.
In addition, the researchers found that the breast cancer death rate has fallen by over 10 per cent in the UK over the past five years, thanks to better treatment for the disease.
In 2007, the breast cancer death rate in Britain was 18.39 per 100,000 women, but this is predicted to drop to 15.95 per 100,000 in 2012, a fall of 13 per cent. Europe wide, the fall is predicted to be 9.0 per cent.
A decade ago, we were highest out of six major European countries for breast cancer deaths. Now, we have dropped to a level similar to that of France and Germany.
Better treatment rather than screening appears to be the reason behind the decline, since the death rate has dropped faster in the under 50s.
Dr Rachel Greig, of the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: "Whilst we know breast cancer incidence is on the increase, it's reassuring to see positive indications that the rate of breast cancer deaths could decrease in 2012.”
"At Breakthrough we know better awareness and treatment are leading to more people than ever surviving the disease.”
"However, 12,000 women are still dying every year in the UK so we must continue to invest in research and education and women must continue to be breast aware."
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