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Treatment of rectal cancer varies enormously between different European countries
Date:9/24/2011

Stockholm, Sweden: First results from an international comparison of the care of patients with rectal cancer have shown there are substantial differences in the use of chemotherapy and radiotherapy between European countries.

The European Registration of Cancer Care (EURECCA) study, initiated by ECCO the European CanCer Organisation compared the treatment of 6,597 patients in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and The Netherlands who were diagnosed with rectal cancer between 2008 and 2009. It also compared the numbers of deaths 30 days after surgery.

In a presentation to the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress [1] today, Dr Colette van den Broek MD, a PhD student and research fellow at Leiden University Medical Centre (Leiden, The Netherlands), explained that by using the results from the EURECCA study, she and the other researchers involved in the project, hoped to identify those aspects of cancer care that played a role in improving clinical practice, treatments, survival, and the limiting of undesired side effects. Then, they would be able to develop recommendations for treatment that could lead to more standardised clinical practice across Europe.

The project started three years ago, and the data presented today, which have been obtained from comparisons of cancer registries in the four countries, show that the use of radiotherapy, or radiotherapy combined with chemotherapy, varied enormously between the countries, despite the fact that the patients had comparable stages of disease.

"The use of radiotherapy or chemotherapy or both was the lowest in Denmark at 25 percent, followed by Norway at 50 percent, Sweden at nearly 61 percent and the highest in The Netherlands at 81 percent," said Dr Van den Broek. "Its use varied depending on the stage of the disease in each country. For instance, in Denmark and The Netherlands, patients with stage I, II and III disease received radiotherapy, chemotherapy or both most often; in
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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