WA leads world in cancer survival

Britain slumps to bottom of cancer survival league tables – and is two decades behind some countries

Britain slumps to bottom of cancer survival league tables – and is two decades behind some countries

"However, there are some cancer types, such as lung and pancreatic cancer, where survival rates are still incredibly low, so we still have a long way to go to ensure that our cancer outcomes are great across the board", Professor Sanchia Aranda, CEO Cancer Council Australia, said in a statement.

Britain's five-year survival rates for stomach cancer are 20.8 per cent - worse than those of Norway, Canada, Australia and New Zealand two decades before. Australia's overall cancer survival rate is nearly 70 per cent - an increase from 50 per cent in 1990. It found that while the chances of surviving cancer have improved in the United Kingdom, they have not caught up with other countries, which are also doing better thanks to new technologies and efforts to catch the disease at an earlier stage before it becomes hard to treat.

Another study published in The Lancet past year, which used data from 71 countries and territories, found survival for most cancers was highest in the world in eight countries, including New Zealand.

The research was gathered as part of an global cancer collaboration which is collating data on seven types of cancer from 19 jurisdictions across seven countries, including three Australian jurisdictions - WA, New South Wales and Victoria.

Jackson said this was most obvious for lung and colon cancer survival rates.

"The results come ahead of the development of the State's new cancer plan which will, for the first time, also incorporate a plan for cancer research in Western Australia". More people are being looked after by specialist teams, rather than surgeons who aren't experts in that area.

Cancer Research UK, which helped fund the study known as the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership, said more NHS cancer staff were needed if the UK was to catch up.

She added: "Cancer Research UK has been calling for staff shortages to be addressed because, quite simply, it will give people a better chance of surviving their cancer".

This is the first global study to look at changes in cancer survival alongside incidence and mortality for cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, pancreas, lung and ovary.

The study's authors noted that the research was observational and that cancer data can be collected differently for different cancer registries, which could impact results. Most drugs that entered the European market between 2009 and 2013 did so without evidence of benefit on patient survival or quality of life, according to research published two years ago in the British Medical Journal.

Australia, Norway and Canada generally had better survival rates than New Zealand, Denmark, Ireland and the UK.

This was especially so for cancers with a poor prognosis - cancer of the oesophagus, stomach, pancreas and lung. Ovarian cancer survival was highest in Norway (46.2%) and lowest in Ireland (36%). The largest improvements were also seen in those diagnosed under the age of 75.

Key actions in the plan include establishing a cancer control agency, appointing a national director of cancer control, having a national cancer control network, and developing options for early access to new medicines.

The lead author, Dr Melina Arnold of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said: "The improvements in cancer survival observed are likely a direct effect of healthcare reforms and technological advances that enable earlier diagnosis, more effective and tailored treatment and better patient management".

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