Background: Population-based cancer registries (PBCR) are important in cancer epidemiology as they provide the basis for monitoring cancer incidence. Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is said to have lower incidence in developing countries, which has implications for its pathogenesis, but there are few studies concerning the completeness of cancer registries in developing countries. This study analyzes the number of cases and incidence of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia in three different cities in Brazil and estimates underreporting cases and possible PBCR failures.
Methods: We evaluated the completeness of PBCR and the incidence rates of childhood ALL from three different Brazilian cities using the two-source capture-recapture method. The sources used were a population-based registry and databases from a diagnosis reference laboratory in 2001 and the Chapman's formula was used to calculate the estimates.
Results: The estimated incidence was 5.76, 6.32 and 5.48 per 100,000 inhabitants for Salvador, Recife and Belo Horizonte, respectively. The estimated completeness of childhood ALL in PBCRs was 15.5%, 35.4% and 29.2%, respectively, for Salvador, Recife and Belo Horizonte.
Conclusions: There was a high estimated underreporting of childhood leukemia cases in some Brazilian cities. The relationship between information systems and the capture-recapture method application improved epidemiological estimates. Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia incidence rates are similar to those of developed countries.