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Age-specific cancer survival in Estonia: recent trends and data quality

Authors Innos K, Lang K, Pärna K, Aareleid T

Received 1 May 2015

Accepted for publication 2 June 2015

Published 29 July 2015 Volume 2015:7 Pages 355—362


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Henrik Toft Sørensen

Kaire Innos,1 Katrin Lang,2 Kersti Pärna,2 Tiiu Aareleid1

1Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, National Institute for Health Development, Tallinn, Estonia; 2Department of Public Health, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia

Background: A number of population-based studies have demonstrated lower cancer survival in elderly patients than among middle-aged or younger patients. Also, data quality in cancer registries has been shown to be associated with age. The objective of this study was to examine the recent age-specific cancer survival trends and age-specific quality of cancer data in Estonia.
Methods: Using Estonian Cancer Registry data, we calculated relative survival ratios (RSRs) for eight common cancers in Estonia in 1995–1999 (cohort method) and 2005–2009 (period method) for four major age groups (15–54, 55–64, 65–74, and 75–84 years at diagnosis). The main data quality indicators were calculated, and the age-specific effect of missing death certificate initiated (DCI) cases on survival was estimated comparing 5-year RSRs computed from the complete data set with those from data set without DCI cases.
Results: We observed overall rise in 5-year RSR for all eight cancers over the study period, with a considerable variation by age, with the lowest survival among the oldest patients. The widest age gradient in 5-year RSR was seen for bladder cancer (20% units in 2005–2009), followed by cancers of lung (16% units), kidney (15% units), breast and prostate (13% units), stomach and rectum (11% units), and colon (5% units). All data quality indicators, including proportion of cases with unknown stage showed a similar age-related pattern with the lowest quality in the oldest age group. The effect of missing DCI cases on survival estimates increased by age and was around 3% units for prostate and kidney cancers among the oldest patients.
Conclusion: Young or middle-aged patients in Estonia experienced larger survival gain since the late 1990s than elderly patients. Decreasing quality of cancer registry data along with increasing patient age suggests less thorough clinical investigations in older age groups.

Keywords: cancer registry, population-based, relative survival, age differences, data quality

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