The Dartmouth Medical School study, published in tomorrow's issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, says cancer death rates are actually higher than now reported. That's because, according to the researchers, many deaths that occur during cancer surgey are reported as being caused by the operation, rather than the underlying disease.
The researchers say that change in the death rates would be modest -- 1 percent increase if deaths within the first month of cancer surgery were classified correctly and as much as 4 percent if deaths in the year following surgery were classified as caused by the disease.
Still, researchers say their study shows there is confusion among medical professionals on how to classify the cause of death among patients. They propose that all deaths within a month of cancer surgery be classified as being caused by the disease.
To learn more about cancer, go to the American Cancer Society.