Variation in survival of patients with head and neck cancer in Europe by the site of origin of the tumours

F. Berrino, G. Gatta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study describes the prognosis of head and neck cancer in Europe on the basis of information available to population-based cancer registries collaborating in the EUROCARE II project. Variation in survival in relation to country and the anatomical site/sub-site of origin of the tumours was examined. Survival analysis was carried out on 35004 head and neck cancer cases (ICD 141, 143-148 and 161) diagnosed between 1985 and 1989 in 17 European countries. Prognosis varied considerably according to anatomical site: the best 5-year survival rates were seen for cancer of the larynx (63% in men) and the worst for cancer of the hypopharynx (22% in men). Five-year relative survival of male patients with cancer of the tongue, mouth and pharynx (ICD 141, 143-148) was 34% and ranged from over 45% in Iceland, Sweden, The Netherlands and Austria to less than 25% in Eastern European countries. Survival for larynx cancer ranged from over 70% in Iceland, Sweden, The Netherlands and Germany to less than 50% in Slovakia, Poland and Estonia. Apparently, France had the lowest survival (relative risk (RR) of dying versus Finland = 1.29) in Western Europe; after adjustment for ICD 3- digit anatomical sites the difference disappeared (RR = 1.04). Eastern European countries remained at the bottom of the survival range (RR > 1.4). The analyses adjusting by sub-site (ICD fourth digit) were confined to registries for which the proportion of unspecified sub-sites was less than 20%. Geographical differences in survival between Western European countries were largely due to a difference in case mix of anatomical sub-sites. However, after correcting for different sub-site distribution, differences persisted between Eastern and Western European countries. This is likely to be due to late diagnosis and to late referral or poor access of patients to adequately equipped treatment centres.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2154-2161
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1998


  • Cancer
  • Cox proportional hazards
  • Europe
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Hypopharynx
  • Larynx
  • Oral cavity
  • Oropharynx
  • Population-based cancer registries
  • Relative survival
  • Tongue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Hematology
  • Oncology


Dive into the research topics of 'Variation in survival of patients with head and neck cancer in Europe by the site of origin of the tumours'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this