Increasing cancer survival and progress in cancer control across high-income countries since 1995

Cancer

New study
reports increasing cancer survival and progress in cancer control across
high-income countries since 1995

Lyon,
France, 12 September 2019 – A new study published in The Lancet Oncology
reports that for seven common cancer types (cancer of the oesophagus, stomach,
colon, rectum, pancreas, lung, and ovary), survival has increased markedly
across high-income countries over the period 1995–2014. The study was led by
researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and
undertaken within the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership (ICBP).

Across the
seven countries included in this ICBP study – Australia, Canada, Denmark,
Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom – the article reports the
following findings.

The largest
improvements over the 20-year period were observed in survival at 5 years after
diagnosis for cancers of the colon and rectum. Depending on the country, 48–59%
of all patients with rectal cancer diagnosed in 1995–1999 survived for 5 years
after diagnosis; this proportion rose to 62–71% for patients diagnosed in
2010–2014.

Survival
also increased for sites with poorer prognosis, such as cancer of the
oesophagus, stomach, lung, and ovary. An increase of up to 11 percentage points
was observed in some countries.

Generally,
larger improvements in survival were observed for patients who were younger
than 75 years at diagnosis compared with their older counterparts. Survival was
consistently higher in Australia, Canada, and Norway, followed by New Zealand,
Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.

This study
from the Cancer Survival in High-Income Countries (SURVMARK-2) project
is the latest cancer benchmark report of the ICBP, a global, multidisciplinary
partnership of clinicians, academics, and policy-makers seeking to understand
how and why cancer survival differs across countries with high-quality cancer
registries as well as universal access to, and comparable expenditure on,
health care.

Data on more
than 3.9 million patients with cancer collected by 21 population-based
cancer registries in seven high-income countries over the period 1995–2014 were
compared and evaluated, with a focus on benchmarking 1-year and 5-year net
survival estimates. Recent trends in cancer incidence and mortality rates were
also examined to assess national progress in cancer control and to generate
hypotheses as to the drivers of these trends. The joint evaluation of trends in
incidence, mortality, and survival indicated progress in four of the seven
studied cancer types: cancer of the stomach, colon, lung (in males), and
ovary.

Together,
these findings suggest that although cancer survival continues to increase
across high-income countries, international disparities persist. Earlier stage
at diagnosis and timely access to effective treatment are likely to be key
determinants of these patterns. Potential differences in the way that cancer
cases are registered and classified may have partially influenced the results,
and this will be explored in the next phases of this ICBP project. Streamlining
data collection and bringing consistency to coding practices will make it
easier to draw comparisons at an international level, providing more
opportunities to identify and share good practices that can improve the
outcomes for patients with cancer around the world.

This study
demonstrates the need for national governments and health bodies to continue to
invest in early diagnostic strategies and screening programmes, and to ensure
that patients have equitable access to the best available treatments.

This study
used the highest-quality data from population-based cancer registries to date
to assess progress in cancer control strategies over a 20-year period. A global
effort is required to streamline data collection and coding practices so that
accurate comparisons can be drawn at an international level and, in turn,
lessons learned about policy and practices can be shared to improve the lives
of patients with cancer.

The International
Agency for Research on Cancer
(IARC) is part of the World Health
Organization. Its mission is to coordinate and conduct research on the causes
of human cancer, the mechanisms of carcinogenesis, and to develop scientific
strategies for cancer control. The Agency is involved in both epidemiological
and laboratory research and disseminates scientific information through
publications, meetings, courses, and fellowships.

The International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership (ICBP) is a global, multidisciplinary partnership of clinicians, academics, and policy-makers seeking to understand how and why cancer survival differs across countries with high-quality cancer registries as well as universal access to, and comparable expenditure on, health care. The ICBP is programme-managed by Cancer Research UK.

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