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Acta Oncol. 2010 Jun;49(5):673-93. doi: 10.3109/02841861003610200.

Trends in survival of patients diagnosed with cancers of the brain and nervous system, thyroid, eye, bone, and soft tissues in the Nordic countries 1964-2003 followed up until the end of 2006.

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  • 1Department of Clinical- and Registry-based Research, Cancer Registry of Norway, Oslo, Norway.



Diagnoses of cancer of the brain, thyroid, eye, bone, and soft tissues are categorised by heterogeneity in disease frequency, survival, aetiology and prospects for curative therapy. In this paper, temporal trends in patient survival in the Nordic countries are considered.


Age-standardised incidence and mortality rates, 5-year relative survival, and excess mortality rates for varying follow-up periods are presented, as are age-specific 5-year relative survival by country, sex and 5-year diagnostic period.


Brain cancer incidence rates have been rising but mortality has been relatively stable, with 5-year survival uniformly increasing from the early-1970s, particularly in younger patients. Five-year survival from brain cancer among men varies between 45% and 50% for men and 60% to 70% in women, with excess deaths decreasing with time in each of the Nordic populations. Age-standardised incidence rates of thyroid cancer have been mainly increasing during the 1960s and 1970s, although trends thereafter diverge, with 5-year relative survival increasing 20-30 percentage points over the last 40 years to around 80-90%. Thyroid cancer survival is consistently lower in Denmark, particularly in patients diagnosed aged over 60, while there is less geographic variation in excess deaths three months beyond initial diagnosis. Relative survival from eye cancer increased with time from approximately 60% in 1964-1968 to 80% 1999-2003, while for bone sarcoma, incidence rates remained stable, mortality rates declined, and 5-year survival increased slightly to around 55-65%. Soft tissue sarcoma incidence and survival have been slowly increasing since the 1960s, with little variation in survival (around 65%) for the most recent period.


There have been some notable changes in survival that can be linked to epidemiological and clinical factors in different countries over time. Time-varying proportions of the major histological subtypes might however have affected the survival estimates for a number of the cancer forms reviewed here.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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