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Cancer in Italy: specifics - Statistics & Facts

The frequency and the type of cancer diagnosed vary by the sex and age of individuals. Generally speaking, the number of new cases of cancer increases with age, but sex plays an important role in terms of incidence, prevalence, and mortality, especially for certain types of cancers. For example, in Italy, oral cavity cancer almost always has a higher number of new diagnoses among men than women, regardless of age. In 2020, the highest number of new cases for this type of cancer was observed among men between 70 and 74 years. On the other hand, colorectal cancer is the cancer with the second highest incidence among women, after breast cancer. In 2020, new diagnoses of colorectal cancer amounted to almost 44 thousand, while in 2021 almost 22 thousand people died from this type of cancer. However, lung cancer is the deadliest type of cancer worldwide as well as in Italy, where around 34 thousand people died from lung cancer in 2021, with the number of men dying from lung cancer more than double that of women.

Common types of cancer among men

In Italy, the type of cancer with the highest number of new diagnoses for men is prostate cancer, followed by lung and colorectal cancer. As of 2020, almost 564 thousand men were living with prostate cancer in the country. Testicular and penile cancers are also specific to men. Testicular cancer is more common than penile cancer, in terms of both prevalence and incidence.

Common types of cancer among women

Breast cancer is the type of cancer with the highest number of new cases for women, followed by colorectal and lung cancer. As of 2020, more than 834 thousand women were living with a diagnosis of breast cancer in Italy. Cervical cancer is one type of cancer solely affecting women, for which the incidence is the highest for women between 50 and 54 years. Human papillomavirus infection is a relevant risk factor for this type of cancer, with the highest incidence rate of all HPV-related cancers in Italy in 2021.


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