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Eur J Cancer. 2004 May;40(8):1233-43.

Can the survival difference between breast cancer patients in Denmark and Sweden 1989 and 1994 be explained by patho-anatomical variables?--a population-based study.

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Department of Cancer Documentation, Danish Cancer Society, Strandboulevarden 49, DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark.


Analyses of data from cancer registries have shown a 10% unit difference in 5-year relative survival between Danish and Swedish patients with breast cancer. This study investigates the effect of age and patho-anatomic variables on this survival difference. Hospital records were collected for women over 40 years of age diagnosed in 1989 or 1994 in east Denmark and south Sweden; patho-anatomical variables and survival were compared between 2289 Danish and 1715 Swedish women. Tumours were smaller, node-negative axillae more frequent and well-differentiated tumours almost 10% more frequent in Sweden. A superior 5-year relative survival in Sweden was found in the 50- to 79-year age group. The adjusted hazard rate ratio between countries was 1.7 in 1989 and 1.3 in 1994. Conditional survival after surviving the first 5 years was similar for the two countries. Adjusting for patho-anatomical variables reduced but did not eliminate the higher risk of death among the Danish patients. Higher population death rates could explain some but not all of the residual elevated risk for Danish women.

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