Cancer patients in almost all European countries survive longer after diagnosis than those in the UK. Only Eastern Europe does worse. The results are bad news for the NHS Cancer Plan, implemented in 2000.
Some of the latest results include patients treated after the plan began, but fail to show significant changes in relative success rates. The Lancet Oncology, in which the new data is published, does not pull its punches. “So has the cancer plan worked?” it asks. “The short answer is seemingly No.”
The new information comes from a group called Eurocare, which organises the largest cooperative study across Europe of cancer patients. In The Lancet Oncology, the group publishes two analyses, one covering patients whose disease was diagnosed between 1995 and 1999, and the second covering those between 2000 and 2002.
In general, five-year survival (generally a proxy for “cure”) is highest in Nordic Countries and Central Europe, intermediate in southern Europe, lower in the UK and Ireland, and lowest of all in Eastern Europe.