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Cancer Health Center

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Cancer Survival Rates Vary by Country

Study Shows U.S., Japan, and France Have Highest Cancer Survival Rates

Cancer Survival: A Closer Look at the U.S. continued...

Patients in New York City had the lowest survival rates for all four cancers except rectal cancer in both men and women. For those, patients in Wyoming had the lowest survival rate.

A racial gap in survival was evident, with white patients more likely than blacks to survive, especially breast cancer. "The comparison is confirmed right across the USA, in all 16 states," Coleman says of the racial gap.

For the study, the researchers estimated relative survival, adjusting for such factors as wide differences in death rates from country to country and for age.

Cancer Survival Study: Second Opinion

"This is a very good way of presenting data worldwide, using the same method of analysis," says Ahmedin Jemal, PhD, strategic director for cancer occurrence for the American Cancer Society, who reviewed the study for WebMD.

The state-by-state differences in cancer survival rates do not surprise him, he says. "Previous studies have shown differences in treatment for breast cancer, for example, across states." Differences in screening have also been detected, he says, with the percentage of women getting regular mammograms, found to vary widely from state to state.

Coleman and Jemal hope the study results will motivate public health policy makers. "What is required here on a policy level is understanding why those differences occur and remedying those differences so the entire population can benefit from the improvement," Coleman says.

Within the U.S., Jemal says, he is hopeful the report will motivate cancer control program organizers at the state level. Policymakers in a state with lower cancer survival rates could consult with neighboring state policymakers with higher survival rates and adopt some of their programs, he says.

The study is published early online and in the August edition of The Lancet Oncology. Funding was provided by the CDC, the Department of Health in London, and Cancer Research UK in London.

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