Cancer Survival Rates Low in Zimbabwe

Lack of access to care may explain lack of success against disease, study finds

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FRIDAY, July 30, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A lack of access to care may explain why survival rates for black cancer patients in Zimbabwe are so low, says a study in the July 30 issue of the International Journal of Cancer.

Survival rates for that population don't exceed 55 percent after five years for the most common cancers. White cancer patients in Zimbabwe had higher survival rates, but both black and white cancer patients in Zimbabwe had much lower survival rates than black and white cancer patients in the United States.

"These patterns suggest that for most cancer sites, differential access to effective medical care, rather than ethnic difference, accounts for most of the observed differences in survival," the study authors wrote.

Compared to other developing nations, Zimbabwe had particularly low survival rates for cancer of the colon and rectum, larynx, breast, cervix, prostate, bladder and for lymphomas. This indicates that people in Zimbabwe have less access to early detection and treatment methods, the study said.

"Equitable distribution of resources is an important ethical concern in cancer treatment. It is clear that, in Zimbabwe at least, and probably in much of the (African) continent, there is plenty of scope for improvement in this respect," the study authors wrote.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about early cancer detection.

SOURCE: John Wiley & Sons Inc., news release, July 30, 2004

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