Up-to-date statistics on cancer occurrence and outcome are essential for the planning and evaluation of programmes for cancer control. Since the relevant information for 2008 is not generally available as yet, we used statistical models to estimate incidence and mortality data for 25 cancers in 40 European countries (grouped and individually) in 2008. The calculations are based on published data. If not collected, national rates were estimated from national mortality data and incidence and mortality data provided by local cancer registries of the same or neighbouring country. The estimated 2008 rates were applied to the corresponding country population estimates for 2008 to obtain an estimate of the numbers of cancer cases and deaths in Europe in 2008. There were an estimated 3.2 million new cases of cancer and 1.7 million deaths from cancer in 2008. The most common cancers were colorectal cancers (436,000 cases, 13.6% of the total), breast cancer (421,000, 13.1%), lung cancer (391,000, 12.2%) and prostate cancer (382,000, 11.9%). The most common causes of death from cancer were lung cancer (342,000 deaths, 19.9% of the total), colorectal cancer (212,000 deaths, 12.3%), breast cancer (129,000, 7.5%) and stomach cancer (117,000, 6.8%). Copyright 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.