Up to 10,000 people die needlessly of cancer ever year in the UK

Story from the left-wing Guardian. (H/T Legal Insurrection via ECM)

Excerpt:

Up to 10,000 people die needlessly of cancer every year because their condition is diagnosed too late, according to research by the government’s director of cancer services. The figure is twice the previous estimate for preventable deaths….

Britain is poor by international standards at diagnosing cancer. [Prof. Mike] Richards’s findings will add urgency to the NHS’s efforts to improve early diagnosis….

Richards found that “late diagnosis was almost certainly a major contributor to poor survival in England for all three cancers”, but also identified low rates of surgical intervention being received by cancer patients as another key reason for poor survival rates.

Research by academics at Durham University led by Prof Greg Rubin has identified five types of delay in NHS cancer care: “patient delay”, “doctor delay”, “delay in primary care [at GPs’ surgeries]”, “system delay” and “delay in secondary care [at hospitals]”….

I followed the link on Legal Insurrection to this Medscape Medical News story, which talks about studies on cancer survival rates in European countries.

Excerpt:

One of the reports compares the statistics from Europe with those from the United States and shows that for most solid tumors, survival rates were significantly higher in US patients than in European patients. This analysis, headed by Arduino Verdecchia, PhD, from the National Center for Epidemiology, Health Surveillance, and Promotion, in Rome, Italy, was based on the most recent data available. It involved about 6.7 million patients from 21 countries, who were diagnosed with cancer between 2000 and 2002.

The age-adjusted 5-year survival rates for all cancers combined was 47.3% for men and 55.8% for women, which is significantly lower than the estimates of 66.3% for men and 62.9% for women from the US Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program ( P < .001).

Survival was significantly higher in the United States for all solid tumors, except testicular, stomach, and soft-tissue cancer, the authors report. The greatest differences were seen in the major cancer sites: colon and rectum (56.2% in Europe vs 65.5% in the United States), breast (79.0% vs 90.1%), and prostate cancer (77.5% vs 99.3%), and this “probably represents differences in the timeliness of diagnosis,” they comment. That in turn stems from the more intensive screening for cancer carried out in the United States, where a reported 70% of women aged 50 to 70 years have undergone a mammogram in the past 2 years, one-third of people have had sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy in the past 5 years, and more than 80% of men aged 65 years or more have had a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. In fact, it is this PSA testing that probably accounts for the very high survival from prostate cancer seen in the United States, the authors comment.

I think that the breast cancer and prostate cancer numbers are significant, because it makes me think of the video in which Michele Bachmann, Marsha Blackburn and Sue Myrick were talking about how Obamacare will limit diagnostic exams for breast cancer, because they are so expensive. When the government pays, they have to keep costs down to make sure that they have enough to pay for the elevated salaries of all the government workers who decide whether you live or die. And prostate exams would undoubtedly also be restricted because of costs.

What this Tom Coburn, M.D. video and he’ll explain. (H/T Hugh Hewitt)

He’s a medical doctor, so he knows what he’s talking about.

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