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Lung Cancer Mortality Higher in England Than Norway, Sweden

Difference in excess risk of dying confined mostly to first year of follow-up

FRIDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- Despite similar national health care expenditures, the mortality rate among lung cancer patients in England is higher than in Norway or Sweden, with most of the difference in excess risk occurring shortly after diagnosis, according to a study in the May issue of Thorax.

Lars Holmberg, M.D., of King's College London, and colleagues collected data from nationwide cancer registries in England, Norway and Sweden for subjects diagnosed with lung cancer between 1996 and 2004. Five-year survival was calculated and excess mortality between the three countries, which have similar health care expenditures, was compared.

The researchers found that, in 2001 to 2004, five-year survival estimates for England, Norway and Sweden were 6.5, 9.3 and 11.3 percent for men and 8.4, 13.5 and 15.9 percent for women, respectively. The difference in excess mortality risk occurred predominantly in the first year of follow-up. Depending on sex and age, the relative excess mortality risk ratio during the first three months of follow-up in England compared to Norway in 2001 to 2004 varied between 1.23 and 1.46, and, for England compared to Sweden, it varied between 1.56 and 1.91.

"Access to health care and population awareness are likely to be major reasons for the differences, but it cannot be excluded that diagnostic and therapeutic activity play a role. Future improvements in lung cancer management may be seen early in follow-up," the authors write.

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