March 1, 2013 - 10:43 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Women in Britain are dying quicker of breast cancer than in comparable countries, even though they are being diagnosed at the same time, suggesting care on the NHS is not as good as it is elsewhere, The Telegraph reports.
Academics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found the proportion of women in the UK surviving at least three years after being diagnosed was 87 to 89 percent, which was similar to Denmark.
In Australia, Canada, Norway and Sweden three-year survival was 91 to 94 per cent for the period examined, between 2000 and 2007.
Britain’s breast cancer survival rates have started to catch up those in these other leading nations in recent years.
It has been thought that the remaining gap was due in large part to women here being diagnosed later, rather than poorer treatment. That could be due to women failing to recognize possible symptoms, or being reluctant to confront its possibility.
But these findings, published in the British Journal of Cancer, cast doubt on that theory. They showed that women in Britain were just as likely to be diagnosed at an early stage in the UK as in the four countries with better survival rates, The Telegraph says.
The figures also showed wide variations is three-year survival for those whose cancer was only picked up when it had spread extensively throughout the body.
In Britain only 28 per cent made it to three years, but in Sweden 42 per cent did.The figures are based on data from 257,362 women followed by the highly regarded International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership.
Dr Sarah Walters, lead author, said: “We should now investigate whether the treatment of women with later-stage breast cancer meets international standards. There is particular concern that this is not the case, especially for older women”.
Sara Hiom from Cancer Research UK, which helped with the study, said: “We need to investigate the possibility that fewer women with later stage breast cancer in the UK receive the best treatment for their circumstances.”
Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said: "This study will help us keep improving breast cancer treatment as part of our cancer strategy to save an extra 5,000 lives a year by 2014. We have worked with Macmillan Cancer Support to improve access to assessment, treatment and aftercare for cancer patients over 70. The NHS is also working to ensure all patients are treated as individuals and receive care that meets their healthcare needs whatever their age or condition."