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Cancer Survival Depends On Country, Report Says

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Researchers investigating cancer survival rates across various countries found some surprising results in the numbers for developed and developing countries.

A study published by the CONCORD program on cancer survival looked at over 300 cancer registries containing patient records for adults and children across 71 countries, ranging from 2010 to 2014. The goal was to compare five-year survival rates, which is used to evaluate how effective treatment is, NPR reports.

Overall, researchers found an improvement in cancer survival rates worldwide. For the past 15 years, cancer survival has remained highest in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

But there were differences. Dr. Claudia Allemani, researcher for the Cancer Survival Group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and lead author, said, “That is particularly true in developed countries and less so in developing countries.”

For example, childhood cancers in well-off countries, like the United States and Europe, are so successfully treated that the five-year survival rate reaches 90% and up. This was most apparent in the data for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer. However, in countries like Mexico, China and Brazil, the five-year survival rate is less than 60%.

But surprisingly, some countries in Asia are better at diagnosing and treating stomach and esophageal cancers compared to the United States. Five-year survival rates for South Korea and Japan are at 68% and 60%, respectively, while it’s 33% in the US.

Allemani believes that identifying these differences is the very reason it is important to keep tracking cancer survival trends and improving registries and databases worldwide, ABC News reports.

Continuous monitoring of global trends in cancer survival is crucial to assess the overall effectiveness of health systems worldwide and to help policymakers plan better strategies for cancer control,

she said. “Governments must recognize cancer registries as efficient public health instruments that produce a continuous stream of valuable information on both the impact of cancer prevention strategies and the effectiveness of health systems, and at very low cost.”

The study was published in The Lancet.

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