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Over 34,000 Finns were diagnosed with cancer in 2016

The Finnish Cancer Registry has published cancer statistics for 2016. In total, over 34,000 new cancer cases were detected in 2016, and there were slightly under 12,700 deaths from cancer. The statistics indicate that the incidence of cancer is increasing, but on the other hand that cancer mortality is decreasing. The new data have been added to the statistics application found on the Cancer Registry website.

According to data of the Finnish Cancer Registry, the most common cancers among men in 2016 were prostate cancer (5,162 cases), lung cancer (1,742 cases), and colorectal cancer (1,735 cases). Among women, the most common cancers were breast cancer (4,961 cases), colorectal cancer (1,625 cases), and lung cancer (992 cases).

Although an increasing number of people develop cancer, more and more people survive the disease. Cancer mortality is predicted to continue to fall even though more and more people develop cancer. The five year relative survival of those patients followed up during the latest statistical period was 66% in men and 69% in women.

The prognosis (measured using 5-year relative survival) of different cancer types is variable. The prognosis is excellent for prostate cancer (93%) and breast cancer (91%), while the prognosis for lung cancer is poor (11% for men and 16% for women). The biggest number of cancer deaths in 2016 were caused by men’s lung cancer (1,490 deaths), prostate cancer (900 deaths), and colorectal cancer (680 deaths). The most common causes of cancer deaths among women were breast cancer (888 deaths), lung cancer (781 deaths), and colorectal cancer (623 deaths).

Cases of cancer are increasing as the population ages

There are considerably more cancer deaths now than in the 1980s, although mortality hasn’t increased when adjusted for the population’s size and age structure. The phenomenon is explained by ageing of the population, as cancer risk increases by age. For example, based on the number of cases, pancreatic cancer is the eighth most common type of cancer but it is the fourth most common cause of death. However, neither the prevalence of nor mortality from pancreatic cancer has increased in Finland over the past 30 years.

Cancer is a rare disease among people under 20 years of age. In 2016, 245 cancer cases were diagnosed in this age group in Finland, and 25 young people died of cancer. The most common types of cancer among children and young people are brain tumours and haematological malignancies.

Statistics collected since 1953

Cancer statistics has been collected the entire time the Finnish Cancer Registry has been operational, i.e. since 1953. The application can also be used to search for data by hospital district. All of the statistics are available online at

Since the statistics is intended to describe the cancer burden — that is, the risk of cancer and mortality caused by cancer — the figures are comparable both in time and in comparison to other countries. Thus, the latest statistics follows the multiple cancer coding rule of  international cancer registration. This means that only one tumour of similar type in an organ is entered in the statistics.

Additional information:

Janne Pitkäniemi, Director for Statistics, tel.: +358 50 372 3335

Nea Malila, Head of the Finnish Cancer Registry, tel.: +358 50 3055 730

The Finnish Cancer Registry is the epidemiological research institute of the Cancer Society of Finland.

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), as the data collector for the Finnish Cancer Registry, has delegated responsibility for operation of the registry to the Finnish Cancer Society. The statistics compiled by the Cancer Registry are used to monitor the number of cancer cases, the trend of the disease burden, cancer risk factors, and the mortality caused by cancer.