Trends in cervical cancer incidence and mortality in the Baltic countries, Bulgaria and Romania

M. Arbyn, J. Antoine, M. Mägi, G. Smailyte, A. Stengrevics, O. Suteu, Z. Valerianova, F. Bray, E. Weiderpass

The burden of cervical cancer varies considerably in the European Union (EU). In this article, we describe trends in incidence of and mortality from this cancer in the two most affected areas: the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and Southeast Europe (Bulgaria and Romania). Incidence data were obtained from the national cancer registries. Data on population and number of deaths from uterine cancers were extracted from the World Health Organization mortality database. Mortality rates were corrected for inaccuracies in the death certification of not otherwise specified uterine cancer. Joinpoint regression was used to study the annual variation of corrected and standardized incidence and mortality rates. Changes were assessed by calendar period and age group, whereas the evolution by birth cohort was synthesized by computing standardized cohort incidence/mortality ratios. Joinpoint regression revealed rising trends of incidence (in Lithuania, Bulgaria and Romania) and of mortality (in Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Romania). In Estonia, rates were rather stable. Women born between 1940 and 1960 were at continuously increasing risk of both incidence of and mortality from cervical cancer. Although some quality issues in the registration of cancer and causes of death cannot be ignored, the trends indicate increased exposure to human papillomavirus infection and absence of effective screening programs. Rising trends of cervical cancer in the most affected EU member states reveal a worrying pattern that warrants urgent preventive actions.