Registration of cancer mortality data in a developing area: Chennai (Madras, India) experience

C K Gajalakshmi, V Shanta, R Rama
Cancer Causes & Control: CCC 1998, 9 (2): 131-6

OBJECTIVES: This study was carried out to evolve a method to improve the registration of cancer mortality data in Chennai (Madras, India).

METHODS: Data on cancer deaths have been collected from the Vital Statistics Department (VSD) by a population-based cancer registry (PBCR) in Chennai only since 1982. The low mortality-to-incidence ratio during 1982-84 suggested under-registration of mortality data. Since 1985, the PBCR has taken special effort to ascertain the vital status of cancer cases by sending reply-paid postcards and/or making house visits. The data on all deaths occurring in Chennai, irrespective of stated cause of death in the death certificate, have been collected from the VSD since 1992.

RESULTS: Deaths that occurred in Chennai and obtained by sending reply-paid postcards and/or making house visits were registered in VSD as non-cancer causes of death; hence, these data were not collected from VSD. The sensitivity and positive predictive values of death certificates on cancer diagnosis based on 1992 and 1993 mortality data were 57 percent and 99.5 percent, respectively.

CONCLUSION: Since the accuracy of death certificate information on cancer diagnosis is relatively low in a developing country such as in India, collecting data on all deaths will improve the mortality data registration in PBCRs.

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