All ages and truncated (35 to 64 years) mortality rates from all neoplasms and from cancers of the lung, stomach, intestines, and breast for the six calendar quinquennia from 1960-1964 to 1985-1989 were computed from official death certification data and population estimates obtained from the World Health Organization database for total Europe (excluding former Soviet Union) and for three broad European areas: (a) member countries of the European Economic Community for the last period of the study; (b) other Western European countries; and (c) Eastern European countries. In Europe, mortality rates for all neoplasms increased for men and decreased for women. The increase in men can be largely explained by the major tobacco-related lung cancer epidemic throughout Europe. Lung cancer mortality rates rose steeply in Eastern Europe, where the truncated rates reached the highest levels ever observed, and there is no evidence of a leveling off. Stomach cancer mortality decreased in all Europe for both sexes, although rates remained higher in Eastern Europe, while intestinal cancer rates tended to level off around the highest values in various areas of the continent. Breast cancer showed a moderate but steady increase. Overall, the most unfavorable trends were in Eastern Europe, due to major epidemics in tobacco-related neoplasms and in other common cancers related to diet and other lifestyle habits.

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