Survival differences across Europe for patients with cancers of breast, uterus, cervix, ovary, vagina and vulva have been documented by previous EUROCARE studies. In the present EUROCARE-5 study we update survival estimates and investigate changes in country-specific and over time survival, discussing their relationship with incidence and mortality dynamics for cancers for which organised screening programs are ongoing.
We analysed cases archived in over 80 population-based cancer registries in 29 countries grouped into five European regions. We used the cohort approach to estimate 5-year relative survival (RS) for adult (⩾15 years) women diagnosed 2000–2007, by age, country and region; and the period approach to estimate time trends (1999–2007) in RS for breast and cervical cancers.
In 2000–2007, 5-year RS was 57% overall, 82% for women diagnosed with breast, 76% with corpus uteri, 62% with cervical, 38% with ovarian, 40% with vaginal and 62% with vulvar cancer. Survival was low for patients resident in Eastern Europe (34% ovary–74% breast) and Ireland and the United Kingdom [Ireland/UK] (31–79%) and high for those resident in Northern Europe (41–85%) except Denmark. Survival decreased with advancing age: markedly for women with ovarian (71% 15–44 years; 20% ⩾75 years) and breast (86%; 72%) cancers. Survival for patients with breast and cervical cancers increased from 1999–2001 to 2005–2007, remarkably for those resident in countries with initially low survival.
Despite increases over time, survival for women’s cancers remained poor in Eastern Europe, likely due to advanced stage at diagnosis and/or suboptimum access to adequate care. Low survival for women living in Ireland/UK and Denmark could indicate late detection, possibly related also to referral delay. Poor survival for ovarian cancer across the continent and over time suggests the need for a major research effort to improve prognosis for this common cancer.