Background: Remarkable increases in lung cancer risk recently have been observed in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) area. This study examines the patterns of lung cancer mortality rates and cigarette sales in 1960-1989 in seven CEE countries with a total population of 97.5 million and 43,000 deaths from lung cancer in the last year under study.
Methods: Trends in cigarette sales and mortality rates from lung cancer in seven CEE countries were compared for the years 1960-1989.
Results: Among males, recent lung cancer death rates were the highest in Europe, and trends by country largely reflected the varied prevalence and duration of smoking in previous decades. For females, lung cancer mortality rates were much lower, although there were exponential rate increases. In the more recent birth cohorts, there were some declines in mortality rates among males, but not among females.
Conclusions: The rising cigarette consumption through the 1960s, 1970s, and, in some countries, the 1980s is accompanied in most of the countries by rising lung cancer mortality rates for young adults. This increasing cigarette consumption will determine future trends in lung cancer, which will increase well beyond the turn of the century and will continue longer for females than for males. This outlook underlines the urgent need for comprehensive lung cancer prevention with the concerted control of smoking as a priority. The role of cofactors and their interaction with smoking deserve further exploration.