Cancer survival: Norway in the Middle
Norway lies in the middle regarding survival after being diagnosed with cancer of the lung, breast, ovaries, or of the colon and rectum. This is shown in a new study published in The Lancet where Tom Børge Johannesen is co-author.
A review of survival statistics in six western countries during the years 1995-2007 shows that Australia, Canada and Sweden do best, Great Britain and Denmark do poorest and Norway ends up in the middle. More than 2.4 million cases of cancer, in total, were included in the study and of these 108 452 were Norwegian.
It is The International Benchmarking Partnership that stands behind the study, published in the recognized medical journal The Lancet.
The study shows that survival increased in the period 1995-2007 for all of the four types of cancer in all the participating countries. The international differences for breast cancer were less for all age groups in the measured period: Differences in one year survival sank from 9 to 5 per cent, while differences in five year survival sank from 14 to 8 per cent. No equivalent reduction was seen for the other three cancer types. Regarding colorectal cancer, one saw a reduction only in patients over 65 years old.
Survival rates are used, among other things, to asses how a country’s cancer strategies work. The study shows that the new cancer plans which Denmark and Norway introduced in 1999-2000 have, in total, not yet shown any marked effect on survival. “It is difficult to conclude in general. One has to look at the singular cancer types. For example, improvement has been seen in rectal cancer, even if this is not directly connected to the cancer plan,” says Bjørn Møller Head of the Department of Clinical- and Registry-based Research, Cancer Registry of Norway to ABC News.
Quality Registries are Important
Bjørn Møller points out that parts of the plan recommend monitoring and registering more information about the patient, regarding treatment, relapse etc. “ We have done a great deal of work at the Cancer Registry of Norway; we collaborate with the different medical institutions and have built up a useful experience around reporting cancer of the rectum. The result of these notifications is, among other things, that it shall be easier to compare different medical institutions and learn from those with best results, explains Møller. In the same way, if there are poor results one can look at what they are doing and assess if they should continue that type of surgery or hand it over to others. That is a part of the cancer plan which is successful,” Møller believes.
Wish to establish more
Such quality registries, f or the time being, are established only for colorectal and prostate cancer. “We are now working to establish quality registries for other cancers so that also those who treat breast- and lung cancer can report and learn from the hospitals that have the best results, says Møller to ABC News.