Significant changes in the prevalence of tobacco smoking have been observed in many European countries. EU candidate countries have also experienced major changes with respect to tobacco smoking, which have resulted in changes in the frequency of lung cancer. In men in the majority of these countries, a reduction of mortality rates has been observed recently, while in Hungary and Poland a deceleration of mortality increase was observed in the 1990s. The situation is much less favorable in females, where in the majority of countries a continuous increase of mortality rates has been observed, the only exceptions being Latvia, Lithuania and, to a lesser extent, Estonia. In Hungarian women, an acceleration of the increase rate was observed in the 1980s and 1990s (compared with the 1970s). Patterns of lung cancer mortality in analyzed countries are somewhat similar to those observed in EU member states. Recent analyses of time trends of lung cancer in EU countries showed, in general, a decreasing risk in the majority of male populations and an increase in several countries in women. If the decrease of mortality is to be achieved and maintained in the longer term, efforts have to be focused on young generations (entering adulthood now or in the near future). Despite all the difficulties present in reducing tobacco smoking in youth, it seems that one of the most important ways to reduce the future lung cancer burden in current and new EU member states is to strengthen efforts toward changing smoking attitudes in young generations.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.