BACKGROUND: Information on cancer prevalence is of major importance for health planning and resource allocation. However, systematic information on cancer prevalence is largely unavailable. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Thirty-eight population-based cancer registries from 17 European countries, participating in EUROPREVAL, provided data on almost 3 million cancer patients diagnosed from 1970 to 1992. Standardised data collection and validation procedures were used and the whole data set was analysed using proven methodology. The prevalence of stomach, colon, rectum, lung, breast, cervix uteri, corpus uteri and prostate cancer, as well as of melanoma of skin, Hodgkin's disease, leukaemia and all malignant neoplasms combined, were estimated for the end of 1992. RESULTS: There were large differences between countries in the prevalence of all cancers combined; estimates ranged from 1170 per 100000 in the Polish cancer registration areas to 3050 per 100000 in southern Sweden. For most cancers, the Swedish, Swiss, German and Italian areas had high prevalence, and the Polish, Estonian, Slovakian and Slovenian areas had low prevalence. Of the total prevalent cases, 61% were women and 57% were 65 years of age or older. Cases diagnosed within 2 years of the reference date formed 22% of all prevalent cases. Breast cancer accounted for 34% of all prevalent cancers in females and colorectal cancer for 15% in males. Prevalence tended to be high where cancer incidence was high, but the prevalence was highest in countries where survival was also high. Prevalence was low where general mortality was high (correlation between general mortality and the prevalence of all cancers = -0.64) and high where gross domestic product was high (correlation = +0.79). Thus, the richer areas of Europe had higher prevalence, suggesting that prevalence will increase with economic development. CONCLUSIONS: EUROPREVAL is the largest project on prevalence conducted to date. It has provided complete and accurate estimates of cancer prevalence in Europe, constituting essential information for cancer management. The expected increases in prevalence with economic development will require more resources; allocation to primary prevention should therefore be prioritised.
Comment In: Ann Oncol. 2002 Jun;13(6):815-612123326
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.
Survival of patients aged 15-24 years, diagnosed with cancer during the period of 1990-1994, is described within Europe. Data on 15101 patients, extracted from the files of the 56 adult cancer registries included in the EUROCARE-3 database, representing 20 European countries, were analysed and compared. Five-year survival for 'all cancers combined' was 75% in males (ranging from 59% in Estonia to 89% in Iceland), and 78% in females (ranging from 59% in Estonia to 89% in Norway). The Northern European countries (except Denmark) and Austria had the highest survival figures, while survival in the Eastern European countries was lower than the European average. Denmark, UK, and the pool of the central European countries, had intermediate survival figures. Haemopoietic tumours were the most common malignancies: 5-year survival was high for Hodgkin's disease (89%), intermediate for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (68%) and lower for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) (47%) and acute myeloblastic leukaemia (AML) (39%). Five-year survival for gonadal germ cell cancers, the second most common malignancy in young adults, was 90%. Five-year survival for the other cancers under consideration was as follows: 89% for skin melanoma, 66% for all Central Nervous System (CNS) tumours, 57% for bone tumours, 58% for osteosarcoma, 42% for Ewing's sarcoma, 57% for soft-tissue sarcomas, 99% for thyroid carcinoma, 82% for uterine cervical carcinoma, and 83% for ovarian carcinoma. For more 'adult-specific tumours', 5-year survival was good for colon (77%) and lung (60%) cancers, and less favourable, compared with adults, for breast cancer (68%). Adolescents (15-19 years) had significantly worse survival than young adults (20-24 years) for all malignancies combined. Survival for Hodgkin's lymphoma, CNS tumours, melanoma and colon cancer showed marked regional variability. Since many of the tumours occurring in young adults are curable, these results should encourage, without delay, efforts to identify obstacles to improving outcome and reducing geographical inequalities in survival for this group of patients.
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.
BACKGROUND: Mortality information is essential for estimating relative cancer survival (that excludes deaths from other causes). However, sufficiently detailed mortality data are not available for all areas covered by the cancer registries (CRs) participating in the EUROCARE-3 study. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Mathematical methods were used to construct complete local mortality data (life tables) for each year of age (0-99), for each year (1978-2000) and by sex, from the incomplete life tables provided by CRs, presenting the results as life expectancy at birth (LE). Socio-economic data were obtained from the United Nations (UN) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). RESULTS: The time and regional trends in LE provided by our estimates are closely similar to those published by the UN at the country level. According to UN data, LE (men plus women) varied from 70 years in Estonia to almost 79 years in Sweden in the period 1995-1999. LE increased markedly over the 20-year study period in most countries except Estonia and Denmark. LE correlated directly with GDP, national expenditure on health and relative survival for all cancers combined. We found that within-country LE variation was large in some countries (particularly the UK). Sweden, Iceland, Switzerland, and parts of Spain and Italy had high LE; eastern European countries had low LE. CONCLUSIONS: Detailed area-specific life tables are essential for reliable estimation of relative cancer survival and its comparison across populations, since LE varies markedly across Europe. Where not available, life tables can be constructed to the required level of detail using mathematical approaches.
Cancer prevalence is the proportion of individuals in a population who at some stage during their lifetime have been diagnosed with cancer, irrespective of the date of diagnosis. Cancer prevalence statistics have generally been provided by a limited number of well established cancer registries that have been in existence for several decades. The advent of systematic follow-up of life status of incident cases and the availability of new statistical methodologies, now makes it possible for registries established during the 1970s or 1980s to provide prevalence data. The main problems encountered in the estimation of prevalence are the inclusion of: (i) cases lost to follow-up; (ii) cases known only from their death certificate; (iii) cases diagnosed before the start of registration; and (iv) the treatment of multiple tumours and migrations. The main aim of this paper was to review these problems and discuss, through the experience gained with EUROPREVAL, how they can be overcome. A method is presented for the calculation of prevalence of all cancers combined in the populations covered by the 45 cancer registries participating in EUROPREVAL. Prevalence of cancer is estimated to be 2% on average, with the highest values (3%) in Sweden and the lowest in Eastern Europe, with a minimum of approximately 1% in Poland.
Comment In: Ann Oncol. 2002 Jun;13(6):815-612123326
The interest in estimating the probability of cure has been increasing in cancer survival analysis as the curability of many cancer diseases is becoming a reality. Mixture survival models provide a way of modelling time to death when cure is possible, simultaneously estimating death hazard of fatal cases and the proportion of cured case. In this paper we propose an application of a parametric mixture model to relative survival rates of colon cancer patients from the Finnish population-based cancer registry, and including major survival determinants as explicative covariates. Disentangling survival into two different components greatly facilitates the analysis and the interpretation of the role of prognostic factors on survival patterns. For example, age plays a different role in determining, from one side, the probability of cure, and, from the other side, the life expectancy of fatal cases. The results support the hypothesis that observed survival trends are really due to a real prognostic gain for more recently diagnosed patients.
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.
This study concerns the survival of European patients diagnosed between 1978 and 1989 with colorectal cancer. Variations in survival in relation to age, country and period of diagnosis were examined. Data from the EUROCARE study were supplied by population-based cancer registries in 17 countries to a common protocol. Five years after diagnosis, relative survival rates were 47 and 43% for cancers of the colon and rectum, respectively. Survival decreased with increasing age: the relative risk of dying for the oldest patients (75+) was 1.39 for rectum and 1.54 for colon compared with the youngest patients (15-44 years). In 1985-1989 survival from colorectal cancer differed significantly between different European countries: the Nordic countries (Denmark excluded), The Netherlands, Switzerland, France and Austria were characterised by high survival, whilst Eastern European countries, the U.K. and Denmark were characterised by low survival. There was a general improvement in survival over the period 1978-1989: from 40 to 48% for colon cancer and 38 to 46% for rectal cancer. For neither cancer site did between-country survival differences narrow over the study period. Intercountry and time differences in survival differences are probably related to stage at diagnosis and postoperative mortality.
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.