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Cancer Survival Rates Vary Across Six Countries

Survival higher in Australia, Canada, Sweden; followed by Norway; lower in Denmark, U.K.

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Survival rates for colorectal, breast, lung, and ovarian cancers are higher in Australia, Canada, and Sweden than Denmark and the United Kingdom and are intermediate in Norway, according to a study published online Dec. 22 in The Lancet.

Michel P. Coleman, B.M., B.Ch., of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues evaluated data from population-based cancer registries in 12 jurisdictions in six countries for 2.4 million adults diagnosed with primary colorectal, lung, breast, or ovarian cancer between 1995 and 2007, with follow-up through Dec. 31, 2007.

Between 1995 and 2007, the investigators found that relative survival improved for primary colorectal, lung, breast, and ovarian cancers in all jurisdictions. Survival was higher in Australia, Canada, and Sweden, intermediate in Norway, and lower in Denmark, England, Northern Ireland, and Wales, especially during the first year after diagnosis and for patients aged 65 years and older. For breast cancer, international differences narrowed at all ages from approximately 9 to 5 percent at one year and from about 14 to 8 percent at five years, but international differences narrowed less or not at all for the other cancers. The international range narrowed for patients aged 65 years and older with colorectal cancer by 2 to 6 percent at one year and by 2 to 3 percent at five years.

"Differences in individual, health-system, and clinical factors -- such as public awareness of cancer, diagnostic delay, stage, comorbidity, and access to optimal treatment -- are all potential explanations for the overall differences in relative survival," the authors write.

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