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Eur J Cancer. 1998 Dec;34(14 Spec No):2184-90.

Survival of patients with primary liver cancer, pancreatic cancer and biliary tract cancer in Europe. EUROCARE Working Group.

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  • 1Côte d'Or Cancer Registry, University of Dijon, Faculté de Médecine, France.


The EUROCARE Study is a European Union project to assemble survival data from population-based cancer registries and analyse them according to standard procedures. We investigated and compared liver, pancreatic and biliary tract cancer survival in 17 countries from 1985 to 1989. Time trends in survival over the 1978-1989 period were also investigated in 12 countries. The overall European mean 1 year relative survival was 16% for primary liver cancer, 26% for biliary tract cancer and 15% for pancreatic cancer. The corresponding 5-year relative survival was 5, 12 and 4%, respectively. Taking the European average as the reference, the relative risk (RR) of death was at least 20% higher for the three cancers in Denmark and Estonia. Survival tended to be higher in Spain for primary liver cancer and biliary tract cancer. Gender had little influence on survival whilst age at diagnosis was inversely related to prognosis. There was an improvement in 1-year relative survival rate for primary liver cancer: relative risk (RR) of 0.68 (95% confidence interval (CI) of 0.60-0.77) for 1987-1989 versus 1978-1980 and biliary tract cancer (RR 0.77, 95% CI 0.68-0.87). There was less variation in 5-year relative survival rate over time. Some intercountry survival differences for primary liver, biliary tract and pancreatic cancers exist over Europe. Differences in quality of care, in particular treatment aggressiveness, may explain some of these differences in survival. New approaches to the management of these cancers need to be found.

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