More Europeans are beating cancer, perhaps due to more widespread screening and earlier diagnosis, according to a study.
While there were differences among countries and different groups of patients, new data taken from cancer registries of 23 European nations showed the proportion of people cured of the most common cancers has risen.
"The good news is that for most cancers, survival has increased during the 1980s and 1990s," said Alexander Eggermont, president of the European Cancer Organisation, who did not take part in the long-running Eurocare study.
The study compared two periods - 1988 to 1990 and 1997 to 1999 - and found that the proportion of men and women cured of lung cancer rose from 6% to 8%, stomach cancer cures from 15% to 18% and colorectal cancer cure rates went from 42% to 49%.
Where people lived played a role in the cancer cure rates, according to the Eurocare study comprising data covering 23 countries and more than 151 million people.
What the study revealed
For all cancers combined most men, about 47%, were cured in Iceland and most women, 59%, were cured in France and Finland. In Poland the fewest men, 21%, and women, 38%, were cured.
At 5% Denmark, Czech Republic and Poland had the lowest proportion of cured lung cancer patients while France and Spain at more than 10% had the highest.
"Without this information, it would be impossible to assess whether improvements in cancer diagnosis, treatment and care are actually having an effect on the outcome for patients," Eggermont said.
The data also highlighted gaps between countries for breast cancer, suggesting that national screening programmes adopted in some Western countries are helping to fight the disease.
The difference between Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia compared to more western European countries was now about 10%, the researchers said in the European Journal of Cancer.
"The data also tells us what cancers and which areas of Europe need to be targeted for further research and investment," Eggermont added. – (Reuters Health, March 2009)
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