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Completeness of bladder cancer staging in the Danish Cancer Registry, 2004–2009

Authors Holland-Bill L, Froeslev T, Friis S, Olsen, Harving, Borre M, Søgaard M

Received 6 March 2012

Accepted for publication 30 April 2012

Published 17 August 2012 Volume 2012:4(Supplement 2 Cancer staging) Pages 25—31


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 5

Louise Holland-Bill,1 Trine Frøslev,1 Søren Friis,2 Morten Olsen,1 Niels Harving,3 Michael Borre,4 Mette Søgaard1,5

Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, 2Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Danish Cancer Society, Copenhagen, 3Department of Clinical Medicine, Department of Urology, Aalborg University Hospital, Aalborg, 4Department of Clinical Medicine, Department of Urology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, 5Department of Clinical Microbiology, Aalborg Hospital, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark

Objective: To investigate the completeness of tumor, node, and metastasis (TNM) staging for invasive bladder cancer in the Danish Cancer Registry (DCR).
Methods: From the DCR, we retrieved data on TNM stage, year of diagnosis, sex, and age of all-incident invasive bladder cancer patients between 2004 and 2009. Data on comorbidity was obtained from the Danish National Patient Register. We estimated the completeness of TNM registration in the DCR overall and stratified the analysis by sex, age, year of cancer diagnosis, and Charlson comorbidity score. Through knowledge of pathophysiology and clinical coding practice, we designed a clinically based algorithm that allowed tumors with certain missing TNM-stage components to be placed in localized, regional, distant, and unknown categories.
Results: The overall completeness of TNM staging for bladder cancer was 44.1% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 42.7–45.5). Completeness decreased from 60.9% (95% CI: 40.6–78.6) in patients aged 0–39 years to 25.5% (95% CI: 23.2–27.9) in patients aged 80 years or older. Among patients with a low level of comorbidity, completeness was 48.4% (95% CI: 46.6–50.3), decreasing to 34.0% (95% CI: 30.4–37.8) among those with a high level of comorbidity. The highest proportion of missing TNM data was found for registration of lymph node metastases. Defining T1 cancer as completely registered, regardless of missing N and M stage, increased TNM-registration completeness to 61.8%. When we applied a clinically based algorithm, only 29.6% of tumors had an unknown stage.
Conclusion: The overall completeness of TNM staging for bladder cancer in the DCR was low, especially with increasing age and high level of comorbidity. Thus, restricting analyses to bladder cancer patients with complete data on stage may produce substantially selected study populations. Careful considerations should thus be made on handling missing data.

Keywords: bladder cancer, TNM stage, completeness, cancer registry, Denmark

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