The European Community (EC) mounted the "Europe Against Cancer" programme in 1987 to control cancer. Information on mortality rates is available for all member countries and the incident number of cancers was estimated for each site, for each country and for the EC as a whole. In 1980 there were 730,000 deaths from cancer and an estimated 1,222,120 [corrected] new cases (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers). Among men, cancer of the lung is the leading cancer site with some 135,000 cases per year followed by prostate, colon and bladder cancer. Breast cancer is the leading site in women, with 135,000 cases per year, followed by colon, stomach and genital cancer. Among men, melanoma of the skin, and lung, pancreas and rectum cancer are more frequent in the north in contrast to larynx, oesophagus, buccal cavity and liver cancer, which are more frequent in the south. There are additional contrasts between Southern European countries. The contrasts are less striking for women. This study provides an estimate of the true number of cases only. The establishment of a network of European cancer registries should eventually lead to more comprehensive incidence information form the EC.