The probability of cancer death in Italian males and females.
ABSTRACT Probabilities of cancer death in Italian males and females over the calendar period 1955 to 1980 were computed from age-specific death certification rates for various neoplasms and contemporary general life tables of the whole Italian population. There were substantial increases in eventual probabilities of total cancer mortality: from 16.9 to 27.1% for males and from 15.2 to 19.3% for females. The upward trends were particularly large for lung (from 1.9 to 7.2%) and other tobacco-related sites in males. In females, the largest increases were for neoplasms of the intestines (from 1.6 to 3.0%) and breast (from 1.9 to 3.1%). Separate analyses of probabilities of cancer death in specific age intervals showed more limited changes in middle age, and some moderate decrease at younger ages, probably attributable to improved treatment. The probability estimates presented are clearly based on criticizable assumptions, since they do not allow for any potential subsequent change in mortality and are inappropriate for analyzing the evolution of cancer rates because they reflect (in opposite directions) trends in cancer mortality and in all other causes of death. Nonetheless, a correct interpretation of these estimates does provide some important information from a public health viewpoint, in terms of resource allocation and health care planning, and can help quantify the increasing demand for oncologic services and structures over the next few decades.