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Health spending link to cancer treatment success

Monday September 30th, 2013

Survival from cancer is strongly linked to total spending on health care across Europe, a conference has been told.

High spending countries such as France, Belgium and Germany ensure that fewer than 40% of patients die from the disease, researchers found.

The findings were reported to the European Cancer Congress in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Researcher Dr Felipe Ades, of the Breast European Adjuvant Studies Team, Belgium, ranked the UK with Spain and Portugal has having death rates of between 40 and 50%.

These countries spent between 2,500 to 3,500 dollars per head on health care compared with 4,000 dollars a head in the most successful countries.

In east and central European countries such as Romania, Poland and Hungary he found that 60% of patients died after cancer diagnosis - with health care spending of less than 2,000 dollars a head.

Dr Ades said the existence screening programmes which detect cancer early might be closely linked to total spending on health.

He said: "Our research demonstrates that despite the initiatives to render more uniform the health policy across the EU member states, there are still marked differences between Eastern and Western Europe in regards to cancer indicators."

Congress president Professor Cornelis van de Velde said: "This is an interesting study confirming that, just as overall life expectancy is higher in countries that spend proportionately more on health, so cancer patients’ survival is also higher in these countries.

"It is interesting to see that this association is even stronger for patients with breast cancer as compared to other cancers, and that, despite the initiatives to standardise health care across Europe, disparities are still present."

* French researchers told the conference that prostate cancer screening is being over-used in their country.

Professor Mathieu Boniol, of the Strathclyde Institute for Global Public Health at iPRI, Lyon, said men put through the programming faced high risks of being made impotent or incontinent to save a small number of lives.

Most men in France will undergo PSA testing at the age of 60, he reported.

He said: "In order to prevent one death from prostate cancer in the 1,000 men screened for PSA, the number of biopsies would double with 154 additional prostate biopsies, and, of 35 additional prostate cancers diagnosed, 12 additional cases of impotence and three additional cases of incontinence would occur.

"Thus, the harm from routine PSA testing can have a serious effect on the quality of life of patients and provides additional evidence against the use of organised screening for prostate cancer."

Tags: Cancer | Europe | NHS | UK News

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