RESEARCH – December 2012

Cancer survival in Estonia versus other European countries 1990–2009 based on the EUNICE Survival Study

Authors: Tiiu Aareleid, Margit Mägi

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Background and Objective. Cancer survival is an important indicator of progress in cancer control. International comparison of survival rates could provide valuable information for development of national cancer strategies. The paper views cancer patients’ survival and its trends in Estonia from 1990 to 2009 in comparison with the other European countries, based on the published results of the EUNICE Survival Study. The collaborative effort of 12 population-based cancer registries from 11 countries has been carried out in the framework of the EU Network for Information on Cancer.

Methods. A centralised database was created at the German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg. The Estonian Cancer Registry submitted the data for 123 patients, diagnosed with cancer in 1985−2003, for study. Model-based period analysis was performed for examining survival trends for selected 14 cancer sites for 1990−1994 and 2000−2004 and for providing prognosticated estimates for 2005−2009.

Results. Five-year relative survival increased in Estonia. For several malignancies (stomach, kidney and thyroid cancers, multiple myeloma and leukaemia) survival rates approached those observed in highincome countries. Still, based on prognostications for the period 2005−2009, survival for breast and testicular cancers, malignant skin melanoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in Estonia remained relatively in Estonia low in comparison to the other participating countries.

Conclusions. The effectiveness of cancer care has considerably improved in Estonia during the two past decades. However, the existing “deficit” in patient survival points to the need for facilitating earlier diagnosis and prompt access to optimal treatment.