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.