Prostate cancer has emerged as the most frequent cancer amongst men in Europe, with incidence increasing rapidly over the past two decades. Incidence has been uniformly increasing in the 24 countries with comparable data available, although in a few countries with very high rates (Sweden, Finland and The Netherlands), incidence has begun to fall during the last 3-4 years. The highest prostate cancer mortality rates are in the Baltic region (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Prostate cancer mortality has been decreasing in 13 of the 37 European countries considered - predominantly in higher-resource countries within each region - beginning in England and Wales (1992) and more recently in the Czech Republic (2004). There was considerable variability in the magnitude of the annual declines, varying from approximately 1% in Scotland (from 1994) to over 4% for the more recent declines in Hungary, France and the Czech Republic. There appears little relation between the extent of the increases in incidence (in the late 1990s) and the recent mortality declines. It remains unclear to what extent the increasing trends in incidence indicate true risk and how much is due to detection of latent disease. The decreasing mortality after 1990 may be attributable to improvements in treatment and to an effect of prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing. The increase in mortality observed in the Baltic region and in several Central and Eastern European countries appear to reflect a real increase in risk and requires further monitoring.
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