Lung cancer mortality in men from the European Union (EU) peaked in the late 1980s at an age-standardised (world standard population) rate over 53/100,000 and declined subsequently to reach 44/100,000 in the early 2000s. To provide a comprehensive picture of recent trends in male lung cancer mortality in Europe, we analyzed available data from the World Health Organization up to 2009 and predicted future rates to 2015. Lung cancer mortality rates in EU men continued to fall over recent years, to reach a value of 41.1/100,000 in 2005-2009. The fall was similar at all-ages and in middle-aged men (less than 2% per year over most recent years), but was appreciably larger in young men (aged 20-44 years, over 5% per year). A favourable trend is thus likely to be maintained in the foreseeable future, although the predicted overall EU rate in 2015 is still over 35/100,000, i.e., higher than the US rate in 2007 (33.7/100,000). Over most recent calendar years, overall male lung cancer rates were around 35-40/100,000 in western Europe, as compared to over 50/100,000 in central and eastern Europe. Within western Europe, lung cancer rates were lower in northern countries such as Sweden, but also Finland and the UK (below 30/100,000), where the tobacco-related epidemic started earlier and rates have long been declining, whereas mortality was high in Belgium (51.6), France (42.3), the Netherlands and Spain (around 43.0), where the epidemic started later but is persisting. Widespread measures for smoking control and cessation in middle-aged European men, i.e., in the generations where smoking prevalence used to be high, would lead to appreciable reductions in male lung cancer mortality in the near future. This is particularly urgent in central and eastern European countries.
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