Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cancer in the News

Two reports from the BBC today which have drawn my attention.

A new report from the Swedish Karolinska Institute compares access to new cancer drug therapies across Europe. To quote "The Czech Republic, Hungary, Norway, Poland and the UK were consistently identified as below-average adopters of new cancer drugs for the treatment of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, non Hodgkin’s lymphoma and supportive care". France had the highest five-year survival rate in Europe at 71% for women and 53% for men, compared to 53% and 43% in the UK.

The government response to the report was typically defensive. The Beeb quotes a Department of Health spokesman explaining that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) was essential in ensuring that the NHS used the most effective treatments and that measures had been taken to speed up the approval process for key drugs.

"We are making good progress in ensuring cancer patients have access to the drugs they need".

Dr Crippen has previously reported on the low rates of survival for lung cancer patients in the UK compared with some other European countries and access (rather lack of) to the drug Tarceva on the NHS.

BBC story here. The full report can be read in html here or pdf here.

In another story the BBC reports that oral sex leads to a higher risk of contracting oropharyngeal (throat) cancer. So the moral of this story must be that it is better to engage in such activities ouside the UK!

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