UK underperforming in cancer care compared to Europe, according to ABPI report
According to a new report commissioned by the ABPI, the UK is continuing to fall behind in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer compared to Europe, with five-year survival rates of UK patients diagnosed with nine varieties of the disease between 2000 and 2007 placing lower than the European average.
The one area where the UK bucked this trend: in the treatment and diagnosis of the skin cancer known as melanoma. Despite this however, the figures place the UK in a very bad light: the country placed second only to Bulgaria for the worst five-year survival rates for lung cancer. The same average for colon cancer was 58% in Europe; in the UK, it was just 52%.
Comparator report on patient access to cancer medicines in Europe revisited – a UK perspective builds on the work of the Swedish Institute for Health Economics with its European Cancer Comparator Report, which incorporates cancer care data over a 20 year period in Europe from 1995.
The ABPI’s report further notes that five-year survival rates for ovarian cancer stands at 34%, making the UK the worst performing country in Europe in this indication. The European average is 40.8%. Additionally, the UK ranks second worst in pancreatic cancer survival, with only 3% surviving more than five years. Only Iceland posted worse statistics in this area.
Perhaps the most sobering fact is that if the UK was as successful as Germany in maintaining survival rates, 35,000 more people would survive for five years after their diagnosis. Furthermore, if the UK could match the mortality rates of France, 100,000 women’s lives could be saved over the next decade.
The report asserts that these lower survival rates are likely due to the finding that access to cancer medicines is lower in the UK than elsewhere in Europe, while the data also suggests that the UK is utilising older medicines than its peers.
“The report shows the impact that comparatively lower levels of UK investment in cancer is having on the quality of care available to British patients,” explained Dr Richard Torbett, Executive Director at the ABPI. “We are seeing that investment in cancer diagnosis and treatments like surgery, medicine and radiotherapy, in countries across Europe is leading to better survival rates and we have to ask whether this should be the ambition for the NHS.
“This should be a wake-up call for the UK to refocus the way we tackle cancer across the board,” he continued. “To make progress we need to look at investing more money to hasten the implementation of the Cancer Strategy; we need to speed up, not slow down, patient access to cost-effective medicines in the NHS and we need to create a more ambitious plan for using real world evidence to shine a light on cancer treatment outcomes.”
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