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UK breast cancer death rates falling fastest in ‘big six’ of Europe

Study says women aged 50-69 most likely to benefit, while those aged 70-79 will gain least

Death rates from breast cancer are falling faster in Britain than in any other of the six most populous countries in Europe, research shows.

The rate of death from the disease has fallen by 17.7% since 2010-2014 thanks to screening, earlier diagnosis and better treatmenta Europe-wide study [pdf] has found.

International experts in cancer incidence estimate that the UK had an age standardised breast cancer mortality rate of 18.39 per 100,000 people in 2005-2009. However, that dropped to 16.19 in 2010-2014 – and is due to fall again to 13.33 this year, they conclude.

It means that by this year the UK will have experienced the highest percentage fall – 17.7% – in its death rate among Europe’s six most populous countries since 2010-14. The equivalent reductions in other nations studied were Germany (12.5%), France (12.1%), Spain (11.3%) and Italy (9.7%), while Poland has seen a 6.1% rise.

However, the UK’s ageing population, increase in obesity and other factors mean that the overall number of people dying from breast cancer in Britain is due to keep on increasing, even as the death rate decreases. The disease claims about 11,900 lives a year and is the second commonest form of cancer death among women after lung cancer.

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