Half of Netherlands residents will eventually be diagnosed with cancer
Netherlands residents’ chances of getting cancer increased significantly in the past three decades, mainly due to the aging population. Half of Dutch people will get a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, compared to a third 30 years ago, the Volkskrant reports based on research by the Integrated Cancer Center of the Netherlands (IKNL).
Between 1990 and 2019, the risk of cancer for women increased from 33 to 47 percent and for men from 40 to 54 percent. The leading cause is the increased life expectancy, Otto Visser, head of cancer registration at IKNL, told the Volkskrant. Cancer is a disease that affects the elderly most. Over 80 percent of cancer patients are diagnosed when they are over 60. Lifestyle factors, like smoking, sun exposure, and alcohol consumption, also play a role in the increased chance of getting cancer.
Men now live an average of 7 years longer than in 1990, and women an average of 3.5 years longer. That is partly due to a significant decrease in mortality from cardiovascular disease. “For every medical improvement, people live longer, with the downside that the number of years they can develop cancer also increases.”
Despite increasingly better treatments, the chance of dying from cancer has changed little for the average Netherlands resident in the past three decades. Over a quarter of Dutch people die of the disease. That also has to do with the aging population, Visser said. The mortality risk has decreased for women under 65 and men under 75. Because so many more older people are getting cancer, these trends outweigh each other.
Visser hopes that the figures about the increased cancer risk will make people think. “It would be nice if it had a preventive effect. Not all cases can be prevented, but some can if we live cautiously.”