2018 Volume 28 Issue 2 Pages 61-66
Background: Survival rate is used to develop cancer control plans. However, there are limitations and biases when interpreting patient survival rate data. This study aimed to identify and account for potential biases and/or limitations on estimating survival rate to enable more effective control of cancer.
Methods: The authors searched PubMed from December 2010 to December 2015 for articles that investigated or described biases in estimating patient survival using cancer registries. Articles that only described the tendency of survival rate and investigated relationships between patient characteristics, treatment, and survival rate were excluded.
Results: In total, 50 articles met the inclusion criteria. The identified potential biases were categorized into three areas, as follows: 1) the quality of registry data (eg, the completeness of cancer patients, accuracy of data, and follow-up rates); 2) limitations related to estimated methods of survival rates (eg, misclassification of cause of death for cause-specific survival rate or a lack of comparability of background mortality for relative survival rate); and 3) the comparability of survival rates among different groups (eg, age-adjustment or patients with multiple cancers).
Conclusion: We concluded that survival rate can be suitable for answering questions related to health policy and research. Several factors should be considered when interpreting survival rates estimated using cancer registries.