In 2008, an estimated 5.2 million new
cases of cancer were diagnosed in OECD countries, at an average of 261 per
100 000 population. Incidence rates varied substantially among countries, being
comparatively high in Denmark, Ireland, Australia, Belgium and New Zealand at over 300
(Figure 1.11.1). In a number of OECD and emerging countries
including India, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey, rates were below 150.
High-income countries tend to have
higher cancer incidence rates than middle- or lower-income ones. People in high-income
countries are more likely to be overweight, have higher alcohol consumption and be
inactive, and each of these factors increase the risk of several common cancers. The high
levels of cancer incidence in Denmark are related to these factors, given the above
average proportions of Danish women who smoke, and the high consumption of alcohol.
However, Denmark and other high income countries also have good records of diagnosing
cancers, which contributes to higher rates. In Australia and New Zealand, high rates of
melanoma of the skin contribute to the high overall incidence rate, along with above
average rates of breast and prostate cancer. The lower incidence of cancer in emerging
countries is in part related to the lesser use of screening tests and issues of data
quality, but also due to the much smaller impact, to date, of tobacco, poor diet and lack
The most commonly diagnosed cancers in
OECD countries in 2008 were colorectal (665 000 cases) and lung cancer (663 000 cases),
each making up 13% of all new cases. Among men, prostate cancer was the most common cancer
(632 000 cases, or 23% of all new male cancers), followed by lung and colorectal. Among
women, breast cancer was most common (639 000 cases, or 27% of all new female cancers),
and then colorectal and lung cancer.
Relatively high incidence rates of
breast cancer are reported in Belgium, France, Israel, the Netherlands and Ireland, with
rates close to or exceeding 100 cases per 100 000 females (Figure 1.11.2). A number of countries have rates which are less than half this
value, at 50 or below - Estonia, Poland and the Russian Federation, as well as Japan,
Korea and a number of emerging countries. Age, family history of the disease, previous
diagnosis, increased exposure to hormones, overweight and excessive alcohol drinking all
increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
Incidence rates for breast cancer have
increased over the past decade in almost all OECD countries for which data are available.
These increases are largely due to improvements in diagnosis and the growing number of
women who receive mammography screening, leading to a subsequent rise in the detection of
new cases. An exception is the United States, where a recent decline in breast cancer
incidence has been linked to a lower use of menopausal hormones, as well as a decline in
mammography screening (American Cancer Society, 2010) (see Indicator 5.9, "Screening, survival and mortality for breast
Prostate cancer has become the most
commonly diagnosed cancer among males in most OECD countries, particularly among men over
65 years of age. The rise in the reported incidence of prostate cancer in many countries
since the 1990s is due largely to the greater use of prostate-specific antigen (PSA)
diagnostic tests, although the use of these tests has also fluctuated because of their
cost and uncertainty about the long-term benefit to patients. In 2008, the incidence of
prostate cancer was highest in Ireland, France, Norway and Sweden, with an
age-standardised rate of more than 110 cases per 100 000 males (Figure 1.11.3). Among OECD countries, low rates of prostate cancer were
reported in Turkey, Greece, Korea and Japan.
The causes of prostate cancer are not
well-understood. Age and family history are the main risk factors. Some evidence suggests
that a number of dietary and environmental factors might also influence the risk of
prostate cancer (American Cancer Society, 2010).
Definition and comparability
Cancer incidence rates are the
number of new cancer cases diagnosed in a year per 100 000 population. Rates have been
age-standardised to the WHO World Standard Population.
All cancers are defined as cancers
coded to ICD-10 C00-C97 (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer C44), colorectal C18-C21,
lung C33-C34, female breast C50, cervix C53 and prostate C61.
Data are sourced from the
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) GLOBOCAN
Database (Ferlay et al., 2010).
Estimates for 2008 are based on cancer incidence rates over recent years.
The international comparability of
cancer incidence data can be affected by differences in medical training and practices
across countries, as well as the completeness and quality of cancer registry data.
Information on data for Israel:
|Indicator in PDF
|1.11.1 All cancers incidence rates, total population,
|1.11.2 Female breast cancer incidence rates,
|1.11.3 Male prostate cancer incidence rates,