Purpose: Within Europe, incidence and mortality rates of childhood leukemia and lymphoma are rather heterogeneous. The present study comprising data from five Southern and Eastern European Cancer Registries aims to compare time trends and examine whether sociodemographic variables, clinical parameters, and proxies of efficient care affect survival.
Methods: Data spanning 1996-2010 were obtained for a total of 3,041 newly diagnosed childhood leukemia and 1,183 lymphoma cases reported by the Greek Nationwide Registry for Childhood Hematological Malignancies, Bulgarian National Cancer Registry, Moscow Region and Turkey (Antalya and Izmir) Cancer Registries. Poisson modeling for the evaluation of time trends and multivariate Cox regression analysis for the assessment of prognostic factors were performed.
Results: The incidence of leukemia was increasing in all cases, with Bulgaria and Greece presenting statistically significant annual changes (+3.5, and +1.7 %, respectively), followed by marginally increasing trends in Izmir and Moscow; by contrast, there was a remarkable, statistically significant, decreasing mortality trend for leukemia. Rates for lymphoma remained flat. Greece experienced almost twofold better survival rates for both leukemia and lymphoma, probably due to its higher socioeconomic status during the study period. Overall, patients with leukemia living in rural areas had a 28 % lower prognosis (RR: 1.28, 95 % CI 1.03-1.59), pointing to effects of remoteness, when the most privileged country (Greece) was excluded from the analysis.
Conclusions: The favorable mortality trends highlight the progress in Southern-Eastern European countries along their trajectory to converge with Northern-Western EU counterpart states. Socioeconomic status may act as a multipotent factor underlying the study findings.