The health transformation that took place after the Second World War in Europe was significantly delayed in the Central and Eastern European countries compared to countries of Northern Europe and United Kingdom. However, as death rates from cardiovascular disease have begun to fall since the 1990s, cancer has emerged as the most common cause of death among young and middle-aged adult women (20-64 years old) in the Central and Eastern European countries. In the coming decade it seems likely to be the leading cause of death among young and middle-aged adult men.The aim of the study was to compare the diversity in cancer risk, contrasting the "old" (EU-15) and the "new" Member States of European Union coming from Central and Eastern European (EU-10) and separately Poland.Material and methods. Data on deaths (1959-2002) in each country have been extracted from the World Health Organization database. Population data are from the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations. Direct standardization has been undertaken using the World Standard Population.Results. The difference in life expectancy attributable to cancer for group 20-64 years of age is 0.68 of a year (16% of the total gap) among men and 0.35 of a year (24% of the total) among women. Trends in cancer over time differ significantly by gender, age group and time period in Central and Eastern Europe. The predicted mortality rate in Central and Eastern Europe in 2015 equates to 201/105 (95% CI 198.9-204) for men and 105.6/105 (95% CI 104.1-107.0) for women.Conclusions. In the Central and Eastern European countries deficiency of primary prevention is a main reason of poor health consciousness (consequences of smoking, fatty diet, low physical activity) and late introduction of poorly organized secondary prevention is responsible for worse survival of cancer patients, however tertiary prevention (therapy) is implemented in similar way as in Western Europe. Our analysis indicates that the greatest possibilities, but also the greatest unmet need, lie in primary and secondary prevention.