Cancer Prevalence in Europe as of 2020

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In a study reported in The Lancet Oncology, De Angelis et al estimated the numbers of patients alive after a cancer diagnosis in Europe as of 2020.  

Study Details

The study used data from the EUROCARE-6 study to estimate the prevalence of cancer in 29 European countries and the 27 countries in the European Union (EU27) as of 2020.

Key Findings

A total of 23,711,000 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 23,565,000–23,857,000) people were estimated to be alive after a cancer diagnosis in Europe (representing 5.0% of the population), including 22,347,000 (95% CI = 22,210,000–22,483,000) in EU27. Female survivors (12,818,000; 95% CI = 12,720,000–12,917,000) outnumbered male survivors (10,892,000; 95% CI = 10,785,000–11,000,000).

The most common cancers in female survivors were breast cancer, colorectal cancer, corpus uterine cancer, cutaneous melanoma, and thyroid cancer. The crude prevalence proportions for these ranged from 2,270 per 100,000 population for breast cancer to 301 per 100,000 population for thyroid cancer.

The most common cancers in male survivors were prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, urinary bladder cancer, cutaneous melanoma, and kidney cancer. The crude prevalence proportions for these ranged from 1,714 per 100,000 for prostate cancer to 255 per 100,000 for kidney cancer.

The estimated differences in prevalence among countries in 2020 ranged from 2 to 10 times across cancer types. Between 2010 and 2020, the number of prevalent cases increased by 3.5% per year, representing a 41% overall increase.  

In 2020, a total of 14,850,000 (95% CI = 14,681,000–15,018,000) survivors were estimated to be alive at > 5 years after cancer diagnosis and 9,099,000 (95% CI = 8,909,000–9,288,000) were estimated to be alive at > 10 years after diagnosis.

The investigators concluded, “Our findings are useful at the country level in Europe to support evidence-based policies to improve the quality of life, care, and rehabilitation of patients with cancer throughout the disease pathway. Future work includes estimating time to cure by stage at diagnosis in prevalent cases.”

Elena Demuru, PhD, of the Department of Oncology and Molecular Medicine, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, is the corresponding author for The Lancet Oncology article.

Disclosure: The study was funded by the European Commission. For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

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