Logo of amjphAmerican Journal of Public Health Web SiteAmerican Public Health Association Web SiteSubmissionsSubscriptionsAbout Us
Am J Public Health. 1981 March; 71(3): 242–250.
PMCID: PMC1619811

Accuracy of cancer death certificates and its effect on cancer mortality statistics.


A study to determine the accuracy of cancer mortality data was done using cancer deaths occurring during 1970 and 1971 in eight of the nine areas included in the Third National Cancer Survey (TNCS). Death certificates with an underlying cause of death of cancer were compared to the hospital diagnosis for 48,826 resident cases of single primary cancers. The underlying cause of death as coded on the death certificate was found to be accurate for about 65 per cent of the cancer deaths in this study. Misclassification problems occurred for colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of death from cancer. Colon cancer was overreported and rectal cancer was under-reported on death certificates. Other misclassification problems were found for cancers of the uterus, brain, and buccal cavity including most of its sub-sites. Physicians tended to report a non-specific site of cancer on the death certificate rather than the specific site identified by the hospital diagnosis.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (1.4M), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Steer A, Land CE, Moriyama IM, Yammoto T, Asano M, Sanefuji H. Accuracy of diagnosis of cancer among autopsy cases: JNIH--ABCC population for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Gan. 1976 Oct;67(5):625–632. [PubMed]
  • MORIYAMA IM, BAUM WS, HAENSZEL WM, MATTISON BF. Inquiry into diagnostic evidence supporting medical certifications of death. Am J Public Health Nations Health. 1958 Oct;48(10):1376–1387. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • JAMES G, PATTON RE, HESLIN AS. Accuracy of cause-of-death statements on death certificates. Public Health Rep. 1955 Jan;70(1):39–51. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Percy C, Dolman A. Comparison of the coding of death certificates related to cancer in seven countries. Public Health Rep. 1978 Jul-Aug;93(4):335–350. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from American Journal of Public Health are provided here courtesy of American Public Health Association


Save items

Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • Cited in Books
    Cited in Books
    PubMed Central articles cited in books
  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...