Wednesday 23 September 2020

The Netherlands has one of the highest incidences of cancer in Europe


The Netherlands has relatively more cancer cases than any other country in Europe apart from Ireland and Denmark, with colon, melanoma and breast cancer the most common forms of the illness, the Dutch cancer centre IKNL said on Friday.

Cancer of the oesophagus, bladder and lung cancer are also far more prevalent in the Netherlands than in most other European countries, the IKNL said. The data comes from combined Dutch and European sources.

Women in the Netherlands suffer from cancer more often, particularly breast cancer and lung cancer while incidences of prostate cancer among men is also higher than in other European countries.

The high incidence rate of lung cancer is down to more women smokers as a result of the ‘early emancipation wave’ of the 1970s, IKNL cancer specialist Otto Visser told broadcaster NOS. ‘

‘You can see this in other countries where the emancipation of women started relatively early,’ Visser said. ‘In Denmark many women took up smoking during the 70s and 80s and that country is in the top three.’

It is unclear why colon cancer and breast cancer should be more prevalent in the Netherlands. Melanoma, an aggressive type of skin cancer, may in part be caused by the fact that the Dutch are light-skinned and therefore more prone to sunburn which can cause the disease. Instances of skin cancer among young people have stabilised, the figures show.


‘Preventive measures can help,’ Viseer said. ‘One of the risk factors for colon cancer, for example, is being overweight. That is something we can tackle.’

The number of deaths also exceeds that in other European countries although the differences are smaller because of better chances of survival.  That is down to the fact that detection takes place earlier and treatments are more effective compared to other countries, Visser said.

In 2019 almost 118,000 people in the Netherlands were diagnosed with some form of cancer. 

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