Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Cancer incidence and mortality in Serbia 1999–2009

Jovan Mihajlović1*, Petros Pechlivanoglou1, Marica Miladinov-Mikov23, Snežana Živković4 and Maarten J Postma1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of PharmacoEpidemiology and PharmacoEconomics (PE2), University of Groningen, Antonius Deusinglaan 1, 9713, AV Groningen, The Netherlands

2 Department of Epidemiology, Oncology Institute of Vojvodina, Put dr Goldmana 4, 21024, Sremska Kamenica, Serbia

3 Department of Epidemiology, Medical Faculty, University of Novi Sad, Hajduk Veljkova 3, 21000, Novi Sad, Serbia

4 Department for prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Institute of Public Health of Serbia “Dr Milan Jovanović-Batut”, Dr Subotića 5, 11000, Belgrade, Serbia

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BMC Cancer 2013, 13:18  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-18

Published: 15 January 2013



Despite the increase in cancer incidence in the last years in Serbia, no nation-wide, population-based cancer epidemiology data have been reported. In this study cancer incidence and mortality rates for Serbia are presented using nation-wide data from two population-based cancer registries. These rates are additionally compared to European and global cancer epidemiology estimates. Finally, predictions on Serbian cancer incidence and mortality rates are provided.


Cancer incidence and mortality was collected from the cancer registries of Central Serbia and Vojvodina from 1999 to 2009. Using age-specific regression models, we estimated time trends and predictions for cancer incidence and mortality for the following five years (2010–2014). The comparison of Serbian with European and global cancer incidence/mortality rates, adjusted to the world population (ASR-W) was performed using Serbian population-based data and estimates from GLOBOCAN 2008.


Increasing trends in both overall cancer incidence and mortality rates were identified for Serbia. In men, lung cancer showed the highest incidence (ASR-W 2009: 70.8/100,000), followed by colorectal (ASR-W 2009: 39.9/100,000), prostate (ASR-W 2009: 29.1/100,000) and bladder cancer (ASR-W 2009: 16.2/100,000). Breast cancer was the most common form of cancer in women (ASR-W 2009: 70.8/100,000) followed by cervical (ASR-W 2009: 25.5/100,000), colorectal (ASR-W 2009: 21.1/100,000) and lung cancer (ASR-W 2009: 19.4/100,000). Prostate and colorectal cancers have been significantly increasing over the last years in men, while this was also observed for breast cancer incidence and lung cancer mortality in women. In 2008 Serbia had the highest mortality rate from breast cancer (ASR-W 2008: 22.7/100,000), among all European countries while incidence and mortality of cervical, lung and colorectal cancer were well above European estimates.


Cancer incidence and mortality in Serbia has been generally increasing over the past years. For a number of cancer sites, incidence and mortality is alarmingly higher than in the majority of European regions. For this increasing trend to be controlled, the management of risk factors that are present among the Serbian population is necessary. Additionally, prevention and early diagnosis are areas where significant improvements could still be made.

Cancer; Incidence; Mortality; Serbia; Comparison