Objective: To update trends in kidney cancer mortality in 32 European countries and the European Union (EU) as a whole, as mortality from kidney cancer has increased throughout Europe until the late 1980s or early 1990s, and has tended to stabilise or decline thereafter.
Methods: Data from the World Health Organization mortality database over the period 1980-2004 were used to compute age-specific and age-standardized (world standard) rates per 100,000 persons at all ages, and truncated to 35-64 years.
Results: In men in the EU, mortality rates from kidney cancer peaked at 4.8 per 100,000 in 1990-1994, and declined to 4.1 (-13%) in 2000-2004. In women in the EU, the corresponding values were 2.1 in 1990-1994 and 1.8 (-17%) in 2000-2004. The main decreases were in Scandinavian countries, and other western European countries. In most eastern European countries kidney mortality rates tended to stabilise, even if values remained high, especially in the Czech Republic and Baltic countries. For kidney cancer incidence, there were decreases in rates for both sexes in Sweden throughout the 25-year calendar period considered. In the last 10 years considered, incidence rates decreased or tended to stabilise also in other northern European countries in both sexes, except in the UK.
Conclusion: The present work confirms and further quantifies the recent favourable trends in kidney cancer mortality and (to a lesser degree) in incidence across most European countries. Thus, improvements in diagnosis and treatments cannot largely explain the declines in mortality. Apart from a favourable role of reduced tobacco smoking in men, the interpretation of these trends remains undefined.