In the last two decades cancer mortality dramatically increased in the majority of Central and Eastern European countries. In the period from 1992 to 1995, the Hungarian male population had the highest death rate (265.0 of 100,000) due to malignancies among 46 countries worldwide. Hungarian women ranked third in cancer death rate among these countries (138.0 of 100,000). Several factors might be responsible for these figures: a) increases in environmental carcinogenic risk factors, b) unfavourable lifestyle changes in the population especially related to high tobacco consumption and dangerous drinking habits, c) lack or insufficiency detection, d) delay in diagnosis, e) inadequate therapeutic patient management, f) shortage of manpower, and g) unsatisfactory financial support. Efforts have been made to overcome these difficulties by: a) detail analysis of exogenous risk factors, b) review of lifestyle of the population, c) public education efforts for effective prevention, d) introduction of model screening programs, e) reorganization of cancer diagnosis and treatment services, and f) design and establishment of a National Cancer Control Program.