There were nearly 2.9 million new cases of cancer and more than 1.7 million cancer deaths during 2004, according to a study published in the current issue of Annals of Oncology.
The study by Professors Peter Boyle and Jacques Ferlay at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, said the aging of the population means the figures will not decrease, even if the incidence and mortality rates for specific age groups remain constant.
They said the four biggest killers are lung, colorectal, breast and stomach cancers.
"Lung, colorectal and breast cancer account for two-fifths of the entire European cancer total and lung, colorectal, stomach and breast cancers together are responsible for half of all the cancer deaths," Boyle said. "Our estimates give a good indication of the burden of cancer incidence and death throughout Europe and will help to clarify the priorities for cancer control action."