A population-based analysis of mortality data for men diagnosed with prostate cancer from three European nations suggests that “a small but important group of older patients” initially present with late stage prostate cancer and die rapidly as a consequence.
The study by Holmberg et al., published in Cancer Epidemiology, was designed to compare patterns of survival among men with prostate cancer from England, Norway, and Sweden between 2001 and 2004, taking account of the ages of the patients and the length of follow-up.
The study included data from 179,112 men in England, 23,192 in Norway and 59,697 in Sweden. All study data were based on information available from the national cancer registries for the three countries involved. Estimates of the “excess mortality” among men with prostate cancer were calculated using a period approach for relative survival.
The results of the study showed that:
- The overall, age-standardized 5-year survival was
- 76.4 percent for English patients
- 80.3 percent for Norwegian patients
- 83.0 percent for Swedish patients
- English patients had
- The lowest overall survival
- The lowest overall survival among men aged ≥ 80 years in particular
- The majority of the excess deaths in England were confined to the first year of follow-up.
In their conclusion, the authors suggest that the early demise of the “small but important group of older patients” may be because (a) they first present with late stage disease and (b) they have severe concomitant comorbidities in addition to their prostate cancer. It is clear that this problem is more common in England than in Norway or Sweden, which may reflect male health-related behavior patterns in the UK by comparison with Scandinavian countries.