BMJ Open. 2021 Jun 18;11(6):e045491. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-045491.
OBJECTIVES: To validate the self-reported diagnoses of gynaecological and breast cancers in a nationwide prospective cohort study of nursing professionals: the Japan Nurses’ Health Study (JNHS).
DESIGN AND SETTING: Retrospective analysis of the JNHS.
PARTICIPANTS AND MEASURES: Data were reviewed for 15 717 subjects. The mean age at baseline was 41.6±8.3 years (median: 41), and the mean follow-up period was 10.5±3.8 years (median: 12). Participants are regularly mailed a follow-up questionnaire once every 2 years. Respondents who self-reported a positive cancer diagnosis were sent an additional confirmation questionnaire and contacted the diagnosing facility to confirm the diagnosis based on medical records. A review panel of experts verified the disease status. Regular follow-up, confirmation questionnaires and expert review were validated for their positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV).
RESULTS: New incidences were verified in 37, 47, 26 and 300 cervical, endometrial, ovarian and breast cancer cases, respectively. The estimated incidence rates were 22.0, 25.4, 13.8 and 160.4 per 100 000 person-years. These were comparable with those of national data from regional cancer registries in Japan. For regular follow-up, the corresponding PPVs for cervical, endometrial, ovarian and breast cancer were 16.9%, 54.2%, 45.1% and 81.4%, and the NPVs were 100%, 99.9%, 99.9% and 99.9%, respectively. Adding the confirmation questionnaire improved the PPVs to 31.5%, 88.9%, 76.7% and 99.9%; the NPVs were uniformly 99.9%. Expert review yielded PPVs and NPVs that were all ~100%.
CONCLUSIONS: Gynaecological cancer cannot be accurately assessed by self-reporting alone. Additionally, the external validity of cancer incidence in this cohort was confirmed.