A new study says your chances of surviving cancer depends largely on the country you live in. In the United States, whether you’re black or white is also a prime factor.
The United States, France and Japan had the highest cancer survival rates among 31 nations. In comparison, cancer survival rates were the lowest in Algeria for all four cancers included in the study.
It is estimated that 1,437,180 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2008, according to the American Cancer Society. 565,650 Americans are expected to die of cancer this year, that’s approximately 1,500 people each day.
Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease. Cancer accounts for 1 of every 4 deaths in the U.S.
This study was the first worldwide analysis to compare so many countries, said the lead author, Michael Coleman, MD, a professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
The study, called the CONCORD study, involved Coleman and researchers collecting data from 2 million cancer patients (aged 15-99) in 31 countries. By using cancer registries from each country, researchers were able to compare five-year cancer survival rates of four different types of cancer: breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer and rectal cancer.
The study found the U.S. had the highest survival rates for breast cancer and prostate cancer, while Japan had the highest rate of colon and rectal cancer survival in men and France had the best rate of colon and rectal survival rates in women.
Survival for most cancers was also high in Australia and Canada.
Seattle had the highest rectal cancer survival rate in women, while Idaho rectal cancer survival rates were highest among men. Prostate cancer survival rates were also best in Seattle. For all other cancers, Hawaii had the highest survival rates.
The lowest survival rates were found in New York City of all four cancers, except rectal cancer in both women and men. Wyoming also had the lowest survival rates.
Cancer survival rates differed among blacks and whites in the United States, in favor of whites. The differences vary from 7 percent for prostate cancer to 14 percent for breast cancer. The contrast in rates is most likely because of late stage cancer diagnosis, according to researchers.
The comparison is confirmed across the USA, in all 16 states included in the study,” said Coleman of the racial disparities.
The study found significant discrepancies in survival rates between the United States and Europe, with survival rates 10 percent and 34 percent higher in the United States for breast cancer and prostate cancer, respectively.
In Europe, the highest survival rates for colon and rectal cancers were found to be in France, while Sweden had the highest survival rate for breast cancer and Austria had the highest rate of survival for prostate cancer.
Poland and Slovakia were the worst performing European countries.
Ahmedin Jemal, PhD strategic director for cancer occurrence for the American Cancer Society, is hopeful the study findings will help to influence public health policy makers.
Coleman said he hopes the study findings will help political leaders to provide better cancer diagnosis and treatment.
The study is published in the early online issue of The Lancet Oncology. #