Early-onset cancers: Incidence trends in Belgium, 2004–2020

BJMO - volume 17, issue 6, october 2023

B. Van Gool MSc, J. Bouchat PhD, M. Rosskamp MSc, K. Van Herck MD, PhD, L. Van Eycken MD


Early-onset cancers are often defined as diagnoses below 50 years of age. Cancer incidence in this age group increases for specific cancer sites according to several international publications. This study describes the cancer incidence trends in Belgium in 2004–2020 in 20–49-year-old people. Overall cancer incidence increases by 0.3% per year in this age group. A decrease is observed for several cancers, including breast, prostate and lung cancer. On the other hand, the risk of being diagnosed with, e.g. melanoma, testicular cancer and thyroid cancer increases. Besides describing incidence trends in young and middle-aged adults, this study demonstrates that data from other (high-income) countries do not necessarily reflect the situation in Belgium and highlights the importance of national population-based data from cancer registries.

(Belg J Med Oncol 2023;17(6):230–5)

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Cancer incidence in Belgium, 2004-2017

BJMO - volume 15, issue 1, january 2021

L. van Walle MD, T. Tambuyzer PhD, G. Silversmit PhD, K. Henau MSc, L. Van Eycken MD


Cancer incidence in Belgium – just as worldwide – is increasing, essentially attributable to an ageing and growing population. The aim of this study is to describe the incidence of different cancers in Belgium based on the most recent data, reaching to the year 2017. When comparing Belgium to Europe, Belgium is ranked within the top ten European countries as for overall cancer incidence rates. In particular, Belgian breast cancer incidence rates are among the highest in Europe. The cumulative risk of developing cancer before the age of 75 years in Belgium is currently 34% in males, compared to 28% in females. This discrepancy between both sexes is expected to diminish further as the overall cancer risk in males tends to decline while a gradual increase is observed in females. The most frequently occurring tumour types in Belgium remained unchanged over the last decade (i.e. lung- and colorectal cancer in both sexes, prostate cancer in males and breast cancer in females) and they represent the major part (54%) of the overall cancer incidence. However, different tendencies in cancer risk are observed for the individual tumour types, also explaining the opposite evolution of overall cancer risk in males in comparison to females.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2021;15(1):4-10)

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Incidence of breast cancer subtypes in Belgium: a population-based study

BJMO - volume 14, issue 6, october 2020

L. van Walle MD, J. Vandeven , C. Colpaert MD, PhD, FP. Duhoux MD, PhD, P. Neven MD, PhD, L. Van Eycken MD, N. van Damme PhD


The aim of this study is to provide a reference for the Belgian breast cancer population, offering detailed information on various patient and tumour characteristics for the breast cancer population as a whole, as well as for the different molecular subtypes. Incidence data for primary invasive breast cancer in females diagnosed in 2014 were selected in the Belgian cancer registration database and underwent individual manual reviewing of the pathology protocols. Subsequently, in 95% of the study population a surrogate molecular subtype was successfully derived, using the combined expression of oestrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, human epidermal growth factor receptor-2, and tumour differentiation grade as surrogate for the proliferation marker Ki67, in conformity with the 2011 St Gallen surrogate classification. Ultimately, differences between the molecular subtypes regarding initial presentation and histopathological features were evaluated by means of a Pearson Chi-squared test for independence. Furthermore, relative survival was calculated for the different molecular subtypes. Histologically, the large majority of the Belgian breast cancer population presents with invasive breast carcinoma of no special type (NST), formerly called invasive ductal carcinoma (75.2%), 14.5% with invasive lobular carcinoma and 5.8% with mixed ductal/lobular invasive carcinoma. Less than five percent of the population harbours less frequently occurring histological subtypes. The Belgian breast cancers are predominantly of the luminal A-like subtype (54.4%), followed by the luminal B-like HER2 negative (14.7%) and the luminal B-like HER2 positive subtype (12.2%). The mean age at diagnosis is 62 years, with almost a third of the patients being 70 years or older. One out of five patients is younger than 50 years, and in the triple negative population this group counts for 31.9%, compared to 16.6% in the luminal A-like breast carcinomas. Most patients (69.4%) are diagnosed with early stage breast cancer (clinical stage 0-II); six percent of the breast cancers are clinically metastasised at the time of diagnosis. For 19% of the patients, information on clinical stage was lacking or staging was not applicable. The unadjusted five-year relative survival proportion for the Belgian cohort is 91.4%. Luminal A-like breast cancer opposed to triple negative breast cancer have the best and worst relative survival, with respectively 96.8% and 77.4% five-year relative survival proportions.

(BELG J MED ONCOL 2020;14(6):263-73)

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BJMO - volume 12, issue 3, february 2018

Michael Rosskamp , Gilles Macq , Kristiaan Nackaerts , Marleen Praet , L. Van Eycken MD, Jan Van Meerbeeck , Harlinde De Schutter

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P.13 Tumour Databanking in Belgium: a central role for the BVT, the nationwide Belgian Virtual Tumourbank

BJMO - 2017, issue 3, february 2017

K. Vande Loock PhD, E. Van der Stock MSc, A. Debucquoy PhD, M. Slabbaert , K. Vos , K. Emmerechts MSc, L. Van Eycken MD, V. Grégoire

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