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2. Mortality from diseases of the circulatory system and neoplasms decreased further

Most Finns died of diseases of the circulatory system in 2018. Their importance as a cause of death has, however, decreased over the past ten years from 41 to 35 per cent. At the same time, age-standardised mortality from diseases of the circulatory system has decreased by 25 per cent for men and 32 per cent for women. In 2018, the mortality from diseases of the circulatory system relative to the population and standardised age structure decreased further both for women (5%) and men (2%) compared to 2017 (Appendix figure 1).

Among diseases of the circulatory system, ischaemic heart disease is still one of the most common causes of death for Finns, even though mortality from ischaemic heart disease has decreased clearly in Finland. Ischaemic heart disease still caused every fifth death for men and every sixth death for women in 2018. Almost 9,500 persons died of ischaemic heart disease.

Persons dying of ischaemic heart disease ever older

When nearly one-half of men that died of ischaemic heart disease were of working-age in 1971, in 2018 only one-tenth of them were aged under 65. The median average age for those dying of ischaemic heart disease in 1971 was 65 years for men and 73 years for women, while the corresponding figures in 2018 were 80 and 88 years.

Figure 3 shows age-standardised ischaemic heart disease mortality. In age standardisation, the effect of the age structure of the population and its changes are eliminated. Then it is seen at which level mortality from ischaemic heart disease would be if the age structure of the population remained unchanged during the whole reference period. The new standard population of Eurostat is used as the standard population in age-standardisation. When the ageing of the population is eliminated from the figures by age standardisation, it can be seen that ischaemic heart disease mortality has fallen clearly over the last 40 years and particularly in the past 10 years. In 2018, ischaemic heart disease mortality decreased further for both men and women.

Figure 3. Age-standardised mortality from ischaemic heart disease in 1971 to 2018

Figure 3. Age-standardised mortality from ischaemic heart disease in 1971 to 2018

Women’s mortality from lung cancer grew from 2017

Of the main cause of death categories, second most Finns died of neoplasms. In 2018, they caused one in four deaths. Persons who died of neoplasms were on average almost 10 years younger than those who died of diseases of the circulatory system. Over the past ten years, age-standardised neoplasm mortality has decreased by nine per cent for men and less for women, that is, by seven per cent (Appendix figure 2). In 2018, neoplasm mortality decreased further for both men and women from the year before. The most common type of cancer resulting in death was lung cancer and prostate cancer for men and breast cancer and lung cancer for women.

In 2018, a total of 1,500 men and 800 women died from malignant neoplasm of larynx, trachea, bronchus and lung. The difference between men and women in lung cancer mortality has narrowed since the 1980s as men’s lung cancer mortality has decreased while it has grown among women. Over the past ten years, women’s age-standardised lung cancer mortality has grown by 11 per cent, while men’s mortality has simultaneously decreased by nearly 20 per cent. In 2018, age-standardised lung cancer mortality decreased by five per cent for men and increased by three per cent for women compared to the year before (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Age-standardised mortality from carcinoma of larynx, trachea and lung in 1971 to 2018

Figure 4. Age-standardised mortality from carcinoma of larynx, trachea and lung in 1971 to 2018

Mortality caused by breast cancer and prostate cancer decreased further

The most common type of cancer causing death among women is breast cancer. In 2018, around 850 women died from breast cancer, which was some 50 fewer than in the year before. Breast cancer mortality was 31 deaths per 100,000 women. The average age of women that died of breast cancer was 72 and almost one-third were aged under 65. In the past ten years the number of women that died of breast cancer has remained almost unchanged but age-standardised mortality caused by breast cancer relative to the number and age structure of women decreased by over 10 per cent over ten years (Figure 5).

After lung cancer, prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer resulting in death among men. In 2018, around 900 men died of prostate cancer, i.e. nearly as many as women of breast cancer. Men’s non-age-standardised prostate cancer mortality was 33 deaths per 100,000 men.

Above all, prostate cancer is a common cause of death for aged men: more than nine out of ten of the deceased were over 65 and the average age of the deceased was 80. Men's age-standardised prostate cancer mortality has decreased clearly in the 2000s, it has decreased by over 20 per cent in ten years (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Age-standardised prostate cancer mortality for men and breast cancer mortality for women 1971 to 2018

Figure 5. Age-standardised prostate cancer mortality for men and breast cancer mortality for women 1971 to 2018

Source: Causes of death, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Kati Taskinen 029 551 3648, Airi Pajunen 029 551 3605, Jari Hellanto 029 551 3291, kuolemansyyt@stat.fi

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma


Updated 16.12.2019

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. 2018, 2. Mortality from diseases of the circulatory system and neoplasms decreased further . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 18.6.2024].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ksyyt/2018/ksyyt_2018_2019-12-16_kat_002_en.html