Comparison of liver cancer incidence and survival by subtypes across seven high-income countries

Mark J Rutherford, Melina Arnold, Aude Bardot, Jacques Ferlay, Prithwish De, Hannah Tervonen, Alana Little, Oliver Bucher, Nathalie St Jacques, Anna Gavin, Gerda Engholm, Bjørn Møller, Dianne L O'Connell, Neil Merrett, Donald Maxwell Parkin, Freddie Bray, Isabelle Soerjomataram

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International comparison of liver cancer survival has been hampered due to varying standards and degrees for morphological verification and differences in coding practices. This paper aims to compare liver cancer survival across the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership's (ICBP) jurisdictions whilst trying to ensure that the estimates are comparable through a range of sensitivity analyses. Liver cancer incidence data from 21 jurisdictions in 7 countries (Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom) were obtained from population-based registries for 1995-2014. Cases were categorised based on histological classification, age-groups, basis of diagnosis and calendar period. Age-standardised incidence rate (ASR) per 100,000 and net survival at 1, and 3 years after diagnosis were estimated. Liver cancer incidence rates increased over time across all ICBP jurisdictions, particularly for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with the largest relative increase in the UK, increasing from 1.3 to 4.4 per 100,000 person-years between 1995 and 2014. Australia had the highest age-standardised 1- and 3- year net survival for all liver cancers combined (48.7% and 28.1% respectively) in the most recent calendar period, which was still true for morphologically verified tumours when making restrictions to ensure consistent coding and classification. Survival from liver cancers is poor in all countries. The incidence of HCC is increasing alongside the proportion of non-microscopically verified cases over time. Survival estimates for all liver tumours combined should be interpreted in this context. Care is needed to ensure that international comparisons are performed on appropriately comparable patients, with careful consideration of coding practice variations. 

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Early online date30 Aug 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 30 Aug 2021

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