New data and analyses from a long-running study of cancer survival in Europe have shown that the number of people actually cured of cancer rather than just surviving for at least five years after diagnosis is rising steadily.
A special issue of the European Journal of Cancer  containing reports from the EUROCARE-4 Working Group, includes, for the first time, an estimate of the proportions of patients who are cured of their cancer in Europe and who, therefore, have a life expectancy equal to that of the rest of the population. The analysis divides patients into two groups the proportion who may be considered cured of their disease and who are likely to die of something else, and those who will die of their cancer.
The study compared two periods 1988-1990 and 1997-1999 and found the proportion of patients estimated to be cured of lung, stomach and colorectal cancers increased from 6% to 8%, from 15% to 18% and from 42% to 49%, respectively.
Dr Riccardo Capocaccia of the National Centre for Epidemiology, Surveillance and Health Promotion (Rome, Italy), who is the guest editor of the EUROCARE-4 special issue, said: "Increases between 1988-1990 and 1997-1999 in the estimated proportion of European patients cured of lung, stomach and colorectal cancers are noteworthy. The proportion cured is not affected by 'lead time' (earlier diagnosis without improvement in life expectancy), so these trends suggest genuine progress in cancer control."
However, as with many other papers in the EJC special issue, the paper on the proportion of cured patients showed there were significant differences between countries in Europe.
For all cancers combined, most men (47%) were cured in Iceland and most women (59%) were cured in France and Finland, while in Poland the least men (21%) and women (38%) were cured.
Dr Capocaccia said: "For all cancers combined, the very wide range in the proportion of patients cured in the
|Contact: Emma Mason|
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation