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Finland's cancer survival rates among the world's highest

A study of 71 countries has found that Finland is one of 8 countries with top cancer survival rates. Five-year survival rates for children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia were 95 percent.

Image: AOP

Finland joins the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the other Nordics in sharing the highest net cancer survival rates in the world from 2000 to 2014.

Cancer survival rates are improving the world over, according to new information from the CONCORD global surveillance programme. The second cycle of the analysis looked at the individual records of 37.5 million cancer patients in 71 countries.

The study includes 18 cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, lung, breast (women), cervix, ovary, prostate, and melanoma in adults, as well as brain tumours, leukaemias, and lymphomas in both adults and children.

Survival rates are improving in general, even for some of the more deadly diseases. In some countries, survival has increased by up to five percent for cancers of the liver, pancreas, and lung, for example. Not all countries were able to provide exhaustive data, however, as for example, there is no information on childhood cancer in the study from any country in Africa.

Important data for better cancer prevention

Five-year survival rates for women's breast cancer are at 89 percent in Finland, compared with 89.5 percent in Australia and 90.2 percent in the US. Significant differences worldwide still exist however, as this percentage falls to 66.1 percent in India, for example.

The data also shows that Southeast Asian countries tend to do a better job diagnosing and treating stomach and oesophageal cancers than western countries. Five-year survival rates for these cancers in South Korea and Japan are 68 percent and 60 percent, compared to 33 percent in the US.

"We can rejoice that Finnish cancer survival figures are among the best in the world. Our national cancer registry has great significance for the study, as it provides data on cancer survival rates throughout the country," says Nea Malila, director of the registry at Finland's Cancer Research Institute.

The most common cancers in Finland during this period include prostate cancer, with a 93 percent five-year survival rate, and colorectal cancer, at 65 percent.

"Monitoring global trends in cancer survival is vital when assessing the effectiveness of health care systems throughout the world. It also helps us to plan better cancer screening methods," Malila explains.