Glossary

Age-specific rate

The age-specific rate is calculated by dividing the number of new cancers or cancer deaths observed in a given age category (generally five-year age groups) during a given time period by the corresponding number of person years in the population at risk in the same age category and time period. For cancer, the result is usually expressed as a rate per 100,000 person-years.

ASR (age-standardized rate)

An age-standardized rate (ASR) is a summary measure of the rate that a given population would have if it had a standard age structure. Standardization is necessary when comparing several populations that differ with respect to age because age has a powerful influence on the risk of cancer. The ASR is a weighted mean of the age-specific rates; the weights are given by population distribution of a standard population. The most frequently used standard population is the World Standard Population. The calculated incidence or mortality rate is then called age-standardized incidence or mortality rate (world). It is also expressed per 100,000. The European standard is used in the graphs and tables of the EUCAN website.

Age distributions of the standard populations used for age standardization
Age groupWorld ASR (W)European ASR (E)
0-412 0008 000
5-910 0007 000
10-149 0007 000
15-199 0007 000
20-248 0007 000
25-298 0007 000
30-346 0007 000
35-396 0007 000
40-446 0007 000
45-496 0007 000
50-545 0007 000
55-594 0006 000
60-644 0005 000
65-693 0004 000
70-742 0003 000
75-791 0002 000
80-845001 000
85+5001 000
Total100 000100 000

Cancer Factsheets statistics

'Cancer Factsheets' show numbers of incident and prevalent cancer cases and cancer deaths in the European Union and the 40 countries of Europe. To account for differences in size of the national populations, incidence rates and mortality rates provide numbers of cases and deaths per 100,000 residents. The(se) rates are further age-adjusted to the standard European population (European Standard Rate [ESR]), to account for the variable age structure in different countries. Consequently, the ESRs can be compared between the countries. Prevalence is presented in the Summary tables as number of prevalent cases and in the map of prevalence as number and as a proportion of prevalent cases.

Crude rate

A crude (unadjusted) rate is calculated by dividing the number of new cancers or cancer deaths observed during a given time period by the corresponding number of person-years in the population at risk. For cancer, the result is usually expressed a rate per 100,000 persons at risk.

Incidence

Incidence is the number of new cases arising in a given period in a specified population. This information can only be collected by population-based cancer registries. It can be expressed as an absolute number of cases per year or as a rate per 100,000 persons per year.

Mortality

Mortality is the number of deaths occurring in a given period in a specified population. It can be expressed as an absolute number of deaths per year or as a rate per 100,000 persons per year.

Population at risk

The population at risk is the population susceptible to develop a specific cancer. It is counted in person-years. Population at risk is the ‘denominator’ for calculating rate. Mid-year population estimates are usually used to calculate cancer incidence/mortality rates.

Prevalence

Prevalence is the number or proportion of the population with a defined condition in a given time point or during a specified time period.

1/3/5-year cancer prevalence used in the EUCAN website is the number of patients diagnosed with cancer and still alive one/three/five year(s) after the diagnosis in the given population. For example, 5-year prevalence in 2012 includes all cases diagnosed within 5 previous years and still alive in 2012. In the maps of prevalence, the proportion of persons living with cancer after 1/3/5-year(s) per 100,000 population at risk is also provided.

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