Australia leads global cancer survival rates

Impressive results attributed to early detection by primary care practitioners but room for improvement remains.

A study, published in The Lancet Oncology journal by the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership, reviewed 3.9 million cancer cases from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Norway, Ireland, Canada and Denmark.

It compared the one-year and five-year survival rates for seven types of cancer: bowel, oesophageal, pancreatic, stomach, rectum, lung and ovarian.

Australia had the highest five-year survival rate in all but lung and ovarian cancer. The five-year survival rate in Australia for oesophageal cancer was 23.5 per cent, stomach cancer 32.8 per cent, colon cancer 70.8 per cent, rectal cancer 70.8 per cent and pancreatic 14.6 per cent.

The chief executive of Cancer Council Australia, Professor Sanchia Aranda, told The Guardian the higher survival rates could be attributed to earlier detection, which she said was due to the management of referral and screening services in Australia.

Australia had the densest per capita availability of imaging services for the seven cancers represented in the study, she said.

Prof Aranda said there was still a sharp divide in survival rates between wealthy people and those from lower socioeconomic groups.

“People in the lowest socioeconomic group have a 37 per cent higher mortality from cancer than people in the highest economic group,” she said.

“So we shouldn’t be complacent about being number one. It should spur us on to make sure that those outcomes are equitable across the population.”