Period estimates of cancer patient survival are more up-to-date than complete estimates even at comparable levels of precision

J Clin Epidemiol. 2006 Jun;59(6):570-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2005.10.012. Epub 2006 May 2.


Background and objective: Period analysis provides more up-to-date estimates of cancer patient survival than traditional methods, but there is a trade-off between up-to-dateness and precision. Our objective was to compare the performance of period and complete analysis in terms of up-to-dateness and precision of survival estimates.

Study design and setting: Five-year relative survival data actually observed for patients diagnosed with 1 of 20 common forms of cancer in Finland in 36 overlapping 5-year periods between 1958-1962 and 1993-1997 were compared with period estimates and various variants of complete estimates of 5-year relative survival potentially available during these periods.

Results: At comparable levels of up-to-dateness, survival estimates from period analysis were more precise than survival estimates from complete analysis. At comparable levels of precision, period analysis provided more up-to-date survival estimates than did complete analysis.

Conclusion: These results further encourage more widespread use of period analysis as a standard tool for up-to-date monitoring of cancer patient survival by population-based cancer registries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Prognosis
  • Registries
  • Survival Analysis*
  • Survival Rate