Fighting Childhood Cancer

Nordic countries have highest survival rates in Europe

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THURSDAY, Dec. 18, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Survival rates for children's cancer in the Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland are the best in Europe, says a new report.

The 160-page EUROCARE report on childhood cancer survival figures says the survival rates in these countries can be achieved by other European countries that devote similar resources and have comparable health systems.

The report examined data on 23,000 European children under the age 15 who were diagnosed with cancer between 1990 and 1994. Details of the report were published Dec. 17 as a supplement to the journal Annals of Oncology.

"We found large variations in overall cancer survival for children, ranging from a low of 45 percent in Estonia to a high of 90 percent in Iceland," lead author Dr. Gemma Gatta says in a prepared statement.

The average European five-year survival rate for all childhood cancers was 71.8 percent. In western Europe, rates ranged from 71 percent to 81 percent. In the eastern European countries of the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia, the rates ranged from 63 percent to 66 percent.

Germany, Switzerland and the Nordic countries (with the exception of Denmark) had high survival figures, with an average of 80 percent.

The investigators also compared survival figures in Europe and the United States. They found that, except for eastern Europe, survival was generally similar between the two continents, although Europe had significantly lower survival rates for neuroblastoma and Wilms' tumor (a type of kidney cancer).

More information

Here's where you can learn more about childhood cancers.

SOURCE: European Society for Medical Oncology, news release, Dec. 17, 2003

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