UK cancer survival rates have been reported to be inferior to those from many other European countries for most of the common cancer types.
The EUROCARE data, on which such reports have been based, have been criticised from several perspectives.
Professor Forman from Leeds and colleagues from Australia undertook a study to compare relative survival of patients diagnosed with cancers of the colorectum, lung and female breast from Yorkshire, UK and New South Wales (NSW), Australia in 1992-2000.
The researchers used data from cancer registries, the Northern and Yorkshire Cancer Registry and Information Service - NYCRIS and the NSW (New South Wales) Central Cancer Registry – NSWCCR.
The population sizes for the two registries are large: 3.6 million for the Yorkshire data within NYCRIS and 6.5 million for NSWCCR, and rates of cancer survival in the registry populations are similar to the corresponding national rates for the UK and Australia.
|Yorkshire patients have a 47-58% higher risk of excess death than those of NSW|
|British Journal of Cancer|
The researchers only included first occurrences of primary cancer for individuals aged 15-89 years at diagnosis.
The research team excluded cases notified by death certificate only, identified at postmortem or with a survival time equal to zero (diagnosed and died on the same day).
The research team measured survival time from the month of diagnosis to the date of death, or in the period at the end of 2001.
The team estimated observed and expected survival using standard life table methods.
The researchers used multiple regression models to adjust for various factors.
Statistically significant differences in 5-year relative survival ratios were found for all three types of cancer with NSW patients consistently having better outcomes.
The research team found that Yorkshire patients have a 47-58% higher risk of excess death than those of NSW.
Professor Forman concluded, "There were benefits in relative survival ratios after age standardisation of more than 5% for lung and female breast cancers and of almost 10% for colorectal cancer."
"For all three cancers, colorectal, lung and female breast, the 5-year survival rates were lower in the UK population with a statistically significant relative excess risk of death of around 50%."
He added "These factors can only be disentangled by more detailed studies that consider both the stage of disease at presentation and the treatment received after diagnosis."