Toward a comparison of survival in American and European cancer patients

Cancer. 2000 Aug 15;89(4):893-900.


Background: Only recently have extensive population-based cancer survival data become available in Europe, providing an opportunity to compare survival in Europe and the United States.

Methods: The authors considered 12 cancers: lung, breast, stomach, colon, rectum, melanoma, cervix uteri, corpus uteri, ovary, prostate, Hodgkin disease, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The authors analyzed 738,076 European and 282,398 U.S. patients, whose disease was diagnosed in 1985-1989, obtained from 41 EUROCARE cancer registries in 17 countries and 9 U.S. SEER registries. Relative survival was estimated to correct for competing causes of mortality.

Results: Europeans had significantly lower survival rates than U.S. patients for most cancers. Differences in 5-year relative survival rates were higher for prostate (56% vs. 81%), skin melanoma (76% vs. 86%), colon (47% vs. 60%), rectum (43% vs. 57%), breast (73% vs. 82%), and corpus uteri (73% vs. 83%). Survival declined with increasing age at diagnosis for most cancers in both the U.S. and Europe but was more marked in Europe.

Conclusions: Survival for most major cancers was worse in Europe than the U.S. especially for older patients. Differences in data collection, analysis, and quality apparently had only marginal influences on survival rate differences. Further research is required to clarify the reasons for the survival rate differences.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Registries
  • Survival Rate
  • United States