Purpose: We aim to shed light on progress in cancer medicine through studying time trends in age-specific rates of cancer incidence and mortality over the last quarter century. Methods: We analyzed age-specific incidence and mortality rates of all cancer sites combined using the high-quality population-based databases of Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands for the period 1990–2016. Results: Over these 26 years, cancer incidence rates increased in all investigated countries irrespective of age by about 22%. By contrast, cancer mortality rates decreased across all ages, also by about 22%, except ages 80+ years in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, where they remained unchanged. This pattern is consistent with earlier diagnoses and more effective treatments of cancer. Conclusions: This bird's-eye view on cancer reveals substantive progress in cancer medicine.

TidsskriftAnnals of Epidemiology
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 6. maj 2020