The EUROCARE project analysed cancer survival data from 45 population-based cancer registries in 17 European countries, revealing wide international differences in cancer survival. We calculated 5-year relative survival for 1836287 patients diagnosed with one of 13 cancers during the period 1978-1989. The data, from 20 cancer registries in 13 countries, were grouped into four regions: Finland, Sweden, Iceland (Northern Europe); Denmark, England and Scotland (UK and Denmark); France, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Switzerland (Western Europe); Estonia and Poland (Eastern Europe), and broken down into four periods (1978-1980, 1981-1983, 1984-1986, 1987-1989). For each cancer, mean European and regional survival was estimated as the weighted mean of 5-year relative survival in each country. Survival increased with time for all tumours, particularly for cancers of testis (12% increase, i.e. from 79.9 to 91.9%), breast, large bowel, skin melanoma (approximately 9-10%), and lymphomas (approximately 7%). For most solid tumours, survival was highest in Northern Europe and lowest in Eastern Europe, and also low in the UK and Denmark. Regional variation was less marked for the lymphomas. Survival improved more in Western than Northern Europe, and the differences between these regions fell for bowel cancer (from 8.0% for those diagnosed in 1978-1980 to 2% for those diagnosed in 1987-1989), breast cancer (from 7.4% to 3.9%), skin melanoma (from 13.4% to 11.0%) and Hodgkin's disease (from 7.2 to 0.6%). For potentially curable malignancies such as Hodgkin's disease, large bowel, breast and testicular cancers, there were substantial increases in survival, suggesting an earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment. The persisting regional differences suggest there are corresponding differences in the availability of diagnostic and therapeutic facilities, and in the effectiveness of healthcare systems.
EUROCARE-3 analysed the survival of 1815584 adult cancer patients diagnosed from 1990 to 1994 in 22 European countries. The results are reported in tables, one per cancer site, coded according to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-9 classification. The main findings of the tables are summarised and commented on in this article. For most solid cancers, wide differences in survival between different European populations were found, as also reported by EUROCARE-1 and EUROCARE-2, despite a remarkable (10%) overall increase in cancer survival from 1985 to 1994. Survival was highest in northern Europe (Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland), and fairly good in central-southern Europe (France, Switzerland, Austria and Spain). Survival was particularly low in eastern Europe, low in Denmark and the UK, and fairly low in Portugal and Malta. The mix of tumour stage at diagnosis explains much of the survival differences for cancers of the digestive tract, female reproductive system, breast, thyroid, and also skin melanoma. For tumours of the urinary tract and prostate, the differences were explained mainly by differences in diagnostic criteria and procedures. The case mix by anatomic subsite largely explains differences in survival for head and neck cancers. For oesophagus, pancreas, liver and brain cancer, with poor prognoses, survival differences were limited. Tumours, for which highly effective treatments are available, such as testicular cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma and some haematological malignancies, had fairly uniform survival across Europe. Survival for all tumours combined (an indicator of the overall cancer care performance of a nation's health system) was better in young than old patients, and better in women than men. The affluence of countries influenced overall cancer survival through the availability of adequate diagnostic and treatment procedures, and screening programmes.
INTRODUCTION: Data on the survival of all incident cases collected by population-based cancer registries make it possible to evaluate the overall performance of diagnostic and therapeutic actions on cancer in those populations. EUROCARE-3 is the third round of the EUROCARE project, the largest cancer registry population based collaborative study on survival in European cancer patients. The EUROCARE-3 study analysed the survival of cancer patients diagnosed from 1990 to 1994 and followed-up to 1999. Sixty-seven cancer registries of 22 European countries characterised by differing health systems participated in the study. This paper includes essays providing brief overviews of the state and evolution of the health systems of the considered countries and comments on the relation between cancer survival in Europe and some European macro-economic and health system indicators, in the 1990s. OVERVIEW OF THE EUROPEAN HEALTH SYSTEMS: The European health systems underwent a great deal of reorganisation in the last decade; a general tendency being to facilitate expanding involvement of the private sector in health care, a process which occurred mainly in the eastern countries (i.e. the Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia). In contrast, organisational changes in the northern European countries (i.e. Denmark, Iceland, Finland and Sweden) tended to confirm the established public sector systems. Other countries, including the UK and some southern European countries (i.e. England, Scotland, Wales, Malta and Italy) have reduced the public role while the systems remain basically public, at least at present. Our findings clearly suggest that cancer survival (all cancer combined) is related to macro-economic variables such as the gross domestic product (GDP), the total national (public and private) expenditure on health (TNEH) and the total public expenditure on health (TPEH). We found, however, that survival is related to wealth (GDP), but only up to a certain level, after which survival continues to be related to the level of health investment (both TNEH and TPEH). According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the TNEH increased during the 1990s in all EUROCARE-3 countries, while the ratio of TPEH to TNEH reduced in all countries except Portugal. CONCLUSIONS: Cancer survival depends on the widespread application of effective diagnosis and treatment modalities, but our enquiry suggests that the availability of these depends on macro-economic determinants, including health and public health investment. Analysis of the relationship between health system organisation and cancer outcome is complicated and requires more information than is at present available. To describe cancer and cancer management in Europe, the European Cancer Health Indicator Project (EUROCHIP) has proposed a list of indicators that have to be adopted to evaluate the effects on outcome of proposed health system modifications.
AIMS AND BACKGROUND: Cancer prevalence in a population, defined as the proportion - or the number - of people who were diagnosed with a cancer during their lives and are still alive at a given date, is a crucial indicator for heath care planning and resource allocation. Long-term population-based cancer registries (CR) are the appropriate tools to produce prevalence figures, which, however, are scarcely available. This paper contains a review up to 1999 of the published data world-wide (reports and articles) on cancer prevalence: including measured and estimated figures. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Data on cancer prevalence from CRs are available for the Nordic countries, Connecticut, and Italy. In addition, electronic data are available for the European Union (EU). Data for the Nordic countries were first published in the mid-seventies, reporting the prevalence for 1970. The first data from Connecticut were available 10 years later. Estimates for all EU countries were published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 1997. In Italy, observed and estimated data on the prevalence of respiratory and digestive tract cancer and breast cancer have been published during the nineties, followed by a systematic analysis for all cancers in 1999. By using information obtained from CRs, cancer prevalence data were calculated directly (observed prevalence) by means of incidence and follow-up information on individual cancer patients, or indirectly (estimated prevalence) by means of mathematical models, which generally use epidemiological information at the aggregate level. RESULTS: Cancer prevalence for all cancers combined (proportions per 100,000 inhabitants) showed values of less than 700 in males and less than 800 in females in 1970 (Finland) to over 2,300 in males and over 3,000 in females in 1992 (Italian registries). With few exceptions, in each country and period considered the cancer sites contributing most to cancer prevalence are lung, colon-rectum, prostate and bladder in males, colon-rectum, breast, uterus (both cervix and corpus) and ovary in females. At present, comparison of measurements from different areas is difficult because there exists no standardized mode of presentation. CONCLUSIONS: In spite of their being potentially useful for health care planning, prevalence data have been produced inconsistently and late by cancer registries, at least in comparison with the systematic availability of incidence and survival statistics. The available data can be compared only to a limited extent due to differences in completeness, in the choice of indicators, in the standard populations, and in the frequency of publication. It would be desirable that in the future data will be produced systematically, with a higher level of standardization compared to the past, and, most importantly, on the same geographic and administrative scale as health-care decision-making.
The survival of 954 cases of retinoblastoma, diagnosed between 1978 and 1989 in 28 populations belonging to 17 European countries and covered by cancer registration, is analysed in this study. Data were collected in the framework of the EUROCARE study following a common protocol and data-check procedures and were analysed centrally by the Kaplan-Meier method and by the Cox regression model. Overall 5-year survival in the European pool was 93% (95% confidence interval (CI): 91--95%), for both sexes. Five-, 10- and 18-year survival for a subset of 235 patients diagnosed in 1978--1981 was 91, 89 and 86%, respectively. Children diagnosed in their first year of age had a slightly higher survival (94%) than those diagnosed subsequently (92%). Survival rates lower than the European average were found in the Eastern European countries, Italy, England and Wales, Scotland, Spain and Denmark. Higher survival was found in the other Nordic countries and in Central European countries. However, none of these differences was statistically significant. There was statistically significant effect related to the period of diagnosis, with a 50% reduction in the relative risk (RR) for children diagnosed in 1986--1989 compared with those diagnosed in 1978-1981.
The EUROCARE Study is a European Union project to assemble survival data from population-based cancer registries and analyse them according to standard procedures. We investigated and compared liver, pancreatic and biliary tract cancer survival in 17 countries from 1985 to 1989. Time trends in survival over the 1978-1989 period were also investigated in 12 countries. The overall European mean 1 year relative survival was 16% for primary liver cancer, 26% for biliary tract cancer and 15% for pancreatic cancer. The corresponding 5-year relative survival was 5, 12 and 4%, respectively. Taking the European average as the reference, the relative risk (RR) of death was at least 20% higher for the three cancers in Denmark and Estonia. Survival tended to be higher in Spain for primary liver cancer and biliary tract cancer. Gender had little influence on survival whilst age at diagnosis was inversely related to prognosis. There was an improvement in 1-year relative survival rate for primary liver cancer: relative risk (RR) of 0.68 (95% confidence interval (CI) of 0.60-0.77) for 1987-1989 versus 1978-1980 and biliary tract cancer (RR 0.77, 95% CI 0.68-0.87). There was less variation in 5-year relative survival rate over time. Some intercountry survival differences for primary liver, biliary tract and pancreatic cancers exist over Europe. Differences in quality of care, in particular treatment aggressiveness, may explain some of these differences in survival. New approaches to the management of these cancers need to be found.
Breast cancer is the most frequent malignancy among women in developed countries. Prognosis is better than for other major cancers, and an improvement in survival has been reported for several populations in recent decades. Within the framework of EUROCARE, a population-based project concerned with the survival and care of cancer patients in Europe, we analysed data from 119,139 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1978 and 1985 in 12 countries and followed for at least 6 years. Multiple regression models of relative survival, which take mortality from all other causes in each area into account, were used to estimate the effect of age, period of diagnosis and country on survival. For the comparison between countries, survival rates were age-standardised to the age structure of the entire study population. Women aged 40-49 years at diagnosis had the best prognosis in all countries and throughout the study period. Women younger than 30 years at diagnosis had a worse prognosis than those aged 30-39. The highest relative survival at 5 years was in Finland and Switzerland (about 74%), intermediate levels were found for Italy, France, The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany (about 70%) and the lowest rates were in Spain, the United Kingdom, Estonia and Poland (55-64%). During the 6 months following diagnosis, survival was highly dependent on age and was sharply lower in women older than 49 years. For women surviving more than 6 months after diagnosis, survival was similar for all ages, although women aged 40-49 still had the better prognosis. The average rate of death from breast cancer fell by about 2.5% for each year of diagnosis between 1978 and 1985. This improvement manifested mainly in younger and older women, for whom survival was initially less good. The largest improvement was seen in Poland (-15% death risk per year). We suggest that the better survival of women aged 40-49 at diagnosis is related to lower levels of circulating sex hormones, resulting in reduced stimulation of tumour cell growth. Early diagnosis may also be important in the peri-menopausal period due to increased diagnostic attention. Low survival in the United Kingdom may be due to inadequate adherence to consensus treatment guidelines and greater variation in treatment.
In the framework of EUROCARE, a concerted action between 45 population-based cancer registries, in 17 European countries, survival of patients with primary malignant brain tumours was investigated. Survival analysis was carried out on 16,268 patients diagnosed between 1985 and 1989 and followed-up for at least 5 years. The mean European age-standardised 5-year relative survival was 17% in men and 20% in women, with minimal intercountry variations, except for markedly lower rates in Scotland, Estonia and Poland. The age-specific analysis showed a relatively uniform survival in patients aged more than 65 years at diagnosis, but there were more marked intercountry differences in younger patients. In the 15-44 year age group (25% of the total study population) 5-year relative survival ranged between 55% (Finland and Sweden) and 27% (Poland). Generally, survival decreased with increasing age at diagnosis. The analysis of a temporal trend in survival was carried out on a subset of registries with available data from 1978-1989. Overall, there was an increase in survival over the considered study period, mostly confined to 1-year survival, suggesting that it was mostly related to improved diagnostic techniques. The most important survival increase occurred in the younger patients, both for 1- and 5-year survival, suggesting that younger patients have less biologically aggressive tumours, benefiting from the combined effect of diagnostic accuracy and effective therapies. The most marked survival increase was seen in England and Denmark, countries with low survival rates at the beginning of the study period, whereas in Finland and Germany, where survival was relatively high to begin with, no important temporal trend was seen.
OBJECTIVES: To analyze cervical cancer survival trends in 10 European countries using models that estimate the proportion of cured patients (having the same life expectancy as the general population) and the survival of fatal cases (who die from cervical cancer). METHODS: We considered 40,906 cases diagnosed over 12 years (1978-89) collected from cancer registries participating in EUROCARE. RESULTS: From 1978 to 1989, 5-year relative survival in Europe improved (60%-->63%). The proportion of cured patients increased slightly but significantly (53%-->55%, p = 0.05). For countries with poorer survival at the end of the 1970s the proportion of cured patients increased faster than average, particularly evident in England (49%-->56%) and Scotland (44%-->53%). By contrast, in Finland, Sweden and Germany with organized screening, 5-year survival and cure rate did not improve, but incidence declined to very low levels. CONCLUSIONS: Cervical screening can explain the trends in cervical cancer survival: this identifies premalignant lesions, reduces incidence and selectively prevents less aggressive cancers. The decreased proportion of the latter means that survival does not improve in countries with low incidence of cervical cancer. The increased proportion of cured patients with time shows that survival improvement was not due simply to earlier diagnosis with no patient advantage.