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Nasopharyngeal cancer incidence and survival in Scotland, 1975–2001


Dr Chantelle Anandan, Division of Community Health Sciences, GP Section, University of Edinburgh, 20 West Richmond Street, Edinburgh EH8 9DX, UK. Tel.: +44 131 651 4140; fax: +44 131 650 9519; e-mail:


Objectives:  To investigate trends in the incidence of, and survival from, nasopharyngeal cancer in Scotland during the period 1975–2001.

Design:  Descriptive epidemiological study.

Setting:  Scotland.

Participants:  The anonymised records of 556 patients diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer (ICD-9 147; ICD-10 C11) in Scotland between 1975 and 2001, and held on the Scottish Cancer Registry.

Main outcome measures:  Incidence rates, and relative survival at 1, 3 and 5 years for defined age groups and time periods.

Results:  There was no clear trend in age-standardised incidence rates of nasopharyngeal cancer throughout the study period, although age-specific incidence rates do suggest a downward trend among older age groups, especially in men. The trend in incidence with deprivation was significant for both males (P = 0.011) and females (P = 0.004). Survival from nasopharyngeal cancer has improved for all age groups over time, although survival still decreases with age. In the 15–44 age group, 5 year relative survival was 84% in patients diagnosed during 1995–2001 compared to 46% in those diagnosed during 1975–1979. Survival was higher among patients from the most affluent quintile (P = 0.004).

Conclusions:  In Scotland, age-standardised incidence rates of nasopharyngeal cancer have remained relatively stable over the last 25 years. Survival has improved across all age groups in recent years, but is higher in younger patients, and in residents of the most affluent socio- economic areas.