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Br J Cancer. 1998 Sep;78(5):566-71.

Variation in the survival of women with breast cancer in Scotland. The Scottish Breast Cancer Focus Group and The Scottish Cancer Therapy Network.

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  • 1Cancer Research Campaign Department of Medical Oncology, Bearsden, Glasgow.


We have investigated factors influencing the survival of women with early breast cancer in Scotland. In a retrospective study, clinical, treatment and 'service' factors, e.g. surgical case load, deprivation and geographical area (health board of first treatment) were recorded from hospital records. A total of 2148 women with invasive breast cancer diagnosed in 1987 were identified from the Scottish Cancer Registry, of whom 1619 without metastases at diagnosis underwent surgery as part of their primary treatment. In a multivariate analysis, clinical factors (age, clinical stage, pathological tumour size, node status and oestrogen receptor status) all influenced survival. After allowing for these clinical factors, surgical case load and deprivation did not have statistically significant effects on survival. By contrast, health board did affect survival. This was explained in part by the selection of patients for surgery. There appeared, however, to be a residual effect that may be related to differences in the use of adjuvant systemic treatment among the different health boards. We conclude that, in Scotland, geographical variation in both surgical and non-surgical treatment has a greater effect on variability in survival for women with breast cancer than surgical case load and deprivation.

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