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Research news: INT epidemiologists publish major Europe-wide study on survival for leukaemias and lymphomas

INT epidemiologists publish major Europe-wide study on survival for leukaemias and lymphomas

Press Release: INT epidemiologists publish major Europe-wide study on survival for leukaemias and lymphomas

Friday July 18 2014

The results of a EUROCARE-5 Europe-wide study on survival for lymphomas and leukaemias were published in the prestigious journal Lancet Oncology in September 2014. The study was conducted by epidemiologists at the INT Milan and the Superior Institute of Health, Rome, analysing 560,400 adult cases diagnosed between 1997 and 2008, and archived by 30 cancer registries in 20 European countries.

The study found that survival increased for most malignancies: the largest increases in five-year survival over the period 1997-2008
were for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (42% to 55%), follicular lymphoma (59% to 74%), chronic myeloid leukaemia (32% to 54%) and acute promyelocytic leukaemia (50% to 62%).

Survival also increased for Hodgkin's lymphoma (75% to 79%), chronic lymphocytic leukaemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (66% to 69%, multiple myeloma/plasmacytoma (30% to 40%), and precursor lymphoblastic leukaemia/lymphoma (30% to 41%).

In spite of these encouraging improvements, differences in survival across Europe were marked, and Eastern European countries generally had lower survival than other European countries.

With regard to survival in Italy, Dr Milena Sant, head of the Analytical Epidemiology and Health Impact Department of the INT explained that this was generally good compared to other countries. For example survival five years after diagnosis for the commonest non-Hodgkin lymphoma (diffuse large B-cell lymphoma), increased from 42% to 55% in Italy which was the same increase as for Europe as a whole. For chronic myeloid leukaemia, survival in Italy was better than the European average: improving from 39% in 1997 to 59% in 2008. Survival for multiple myeloma was also better in Italy than Europe as whole.

Iceland and Norway had survival that was always above the European average. Survival in the UK was close to the European average for leukaemias but was well below the average for lymphomas and multiple myeloma. Eastern European countries (Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia) had significantly lower survival than the European average, even though survival improved strongly in these countries from 1997 to 2008.

The greatest survival increases generally occurred in the counties of northern and central Europe. Increases were generally more modest in the countries of southern Europe in part because survival was already high at the start of the study period. Although survival for most haematological malignancies also increased in the UK, survival levels were closer to those of Eastern Europe than those in central and northern Europe.

Throughout Europe, survival decreased strongly as age of diagnosis increased, but even for the oldest patients (75 years and above), survival generally increased by around 10%.

Dr Sant commented that improved survival for patients with haematological malignancies closely followed the introduction of new targeted treatments (e.g. rituximab and imatinib) for many of these diseases. She suggested that survival differences across European countries could in part reflect delays in introducing treatment regimens employing these new agents.

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