Patient survival for all cancers combined as indicator of cancer control in Europe

Arduino Verdecchia, Paolo Baili, Alberto Quaglia, Ian Kunkler, Roberta Ciampichini, Franco Berrino, Andrea Micheli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: EUROCARE found marked differences in cancer survival across European populations, provoking extensive discussion as to the cause. We investigated the influence of socioeconomic indicators on survival, making use of the indicator population-based age-standardized and cancer site-standardized relative survival for all cancers combined (all cancer survival). Methods: Bivariate correlation and multivariate regression analyses investigated relations between 1995 socioeconomic variables and all cancer survival in EUROCARE-3 patients from 19 European countries diagnosed 1990-94 and followed to 1999. Results: Gross domestic product (GDP) and total national expenditure on health (TNEH) correlated highly with all cancer survival. Wealthy northern and western European countries had high survival; eastern European countries had low all cancer survival. GDP, TNEH, and number of computed tomography scanners per million - proxy of technological investment in cancer care - explained most survival differences. Low all cancer survival in the UK and Denmark compared to countries of similar wealth was closely related to fewer computed tomography scanners. Low all cancer survival in Poland compared to countries of similar wealth was also related to low TNEH. Conclusions: All cancer survival appears a useful and important indicator for monitoring countries' performance in cancer control. The most direct way for poorer European countries to improve all cancer survival would be to get richer; for richer countries more investment in health technology is important. However the sharply increasing costs of cancer care may render this impossible suggesting the need to radically rethink cancer control strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-532
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


  • Cancer control
  • Cancer indicator
  • Cancer survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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