This research compares cancer survival trends between many countries world-wide. The goal is to quantify international differences in survival and to establish which governments could do more to increase the chances of long-term survival for people diagnosed with cancer.

Why was this work needed?

The number of people diagnosed with cancer worldwide is increasing every year, but survival varies very widely between countries. Understanding where survival for each type of cancer is lower than it should be is critical because by comparing the different countries’ health systems and policies we can begin to understand variation.

What happened?

CONCORD is the global programme for worldwide surveillance of cancer survival. It published the first global comparison of survival in 2008. It showed wide variation in 5-year survival among 2 million adults in 31 countries diagnosed during 1990-1994 and followed up to 1999 with a cancer of the breast, colon, rectum or prostate.

CONCORD-2, published in 2015, extended the study to cover more countries and more types of cancer. It established long-term surveillance of cancer survival trends for the first time, with data for 25.7 million cancer patients diagnosed during the 15-year period 1995-2009. The ten cancers represented 63% of the global cancer burden. The 67 participating countries were home to two thirds (4.8 billion) of the world’s population in 2009.

CONCORD-3 is in progress. It will update the global surveillance of cancer survival trends to include patients diagnosed as recently as 2014. It includes 15 cancers in adults, and brain tumours, lymphomas and leukaemias in children.

What were the benefits?

By continuing to document the wide international variation in cancer outcomes, CONCORD shows that improvements are urgently needed in government policies and better health systems.

For example, CONCORD-2 showed that, although overall cancer survival in England is increasing, it remains lower than in other comparable countries.

What type of data was involved?

CONCORD uses de-personalised data provided by around 300 population-based cancer registries in many countries world-wide.

Cancer registry data is de-personalised before researchers are allowed access. Legal, ethical and data sharing agreements are in place with collaborating centres.

Who funded and collaborated on this work?

CONCORD is led by the Cancer Survival Group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK.

CONCORD-2 was funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (Toronto, Canada), Cancer Focus Northern Ireland (Belfast, UK), Cancer Institute New South Wales (Sydney, Australia), Cancer Research UK (London, UK), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta, GA, USA), Swiss Re (London, UK), Swiss Cancer Research foundation (Bern, Switzerland), Swiss Cancer League (Bern, Switzerland), and University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY, USA).

Where can I go for more information?

CONCORD Programme

CONCORD Study (2008)

Global surveillance of cancer survival 1995–2009 (CONCORD-2)