In this nationwide, population-based study, we assessed 10-year relative survival among 225,305 patients with ten early-stage cancers diagnosed in the Netherlands during 2004-2015. This study aimed to ascertain which early-stage cancer is associated with minimal or no excess mortality and likely to be diagnosed in individuals who are otherwise more healthy or health-conscious than their counterparts in the general population. Ten-year relative survival marginally exceeded 100% in patients with early-stage prostate cancer, while it was close to 100% for patients with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and stage I cancers of the breast, skin (melanoma), testis, and thyroid. In contrast, patients with early-stage oral/pharyngeal, bladder, lung, and pancreatic cancers experienced considerable excess mortality, reflected by a 10-year relative survival of 74.9%, 69.4%, 45.5%, and 33.9%, respectively. Collectively, the life expectancy of patients with DCIS and early-stage cancers of the prostate, breast, skin (melanoma), testis, and thyroid parallels the expected survival of an age-, sex-, and calendar year-matched group from the general population. Our study findings add to the controversy surrounding overdiagnosis of particular early-stage cancers that are generally not destined to metastasis or cause excess mortality.
- Relative survival