APH 2000, 58, 263-279:

Cancer registration in Belgium: experience from a melanoma registration programme in the province of East-Flanders.

L. Brochez, E. Verhaeghe, L. Bleyen, G. De Backer, D. De Bacquer, M. Haelterman and JM. Naeyaert

Belgium, cancer registration, melanoma incidence, melanoma registration

This paper presents the results of a study investigating melanoma registration in Belgium.

Incidence rates reported by the National Cancer Registry were low compared to other European countries.  Over the period 1989-1994 a decrease in reported melanoma incidence was observed, which was not reported in any country and is most probably artificial.  A melanoma registration programme in East-Flanders obtained a higher registration compared to the National Cancer Registry in females, especially in the age group < 50.  In these younger females, 6 of 22 (27%) melanomas were in situ compared to 5 in 29 (17%) in the other group (p = 0.39).  Additionally thinner invasive melanomas (median Breslow thickness 0.94 mm versus 1.56 mm, p = 0.019) were reported in this group compared to females aged over 50.  Such early-stage melanomas are more likely to be treated on an outpatient basis.

These data suggest that the lower registration by the National Cancer Registry is most probably related to its hospital-based reporting system.  Incorporation of registration procedures including pathology laboratories and the direct reporting by treating physians, are currently being investigated in a cancer registration network in Flanders.