Germany: Cancer survival rate gap narrows

Aug. 28, 2012 at 12:55 PM
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HEIDELBERG, Germany, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- A disparity in cancer survival rates in the former West and East Germany has "almost entirely disappeared" in the years following the Cold War, researchers say.

Study leaders Dr. Lina Jansen and Hermann Brenner of the German Cancer Research Center and the Association of Population-based Cancer Registries in Germany said the study was based on more than 1 million cancer cases from Germany's 11 population-based state cancer registries.

An analysis of a diagnosis period from 1984 to 1985 in the former German Democratic Republic found 28 percent of colorectal cancer patients, 46 percent of prostate cancer patients and 52 percent of breast cancer patients survived the first five years after diagnosis.

The study, published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, found the five-year survival rates for people in West Germany affected by the same types of cancer were 44 percent, 68 percent, and 68 percent, respectively, in the years from 1979 to 1983.

The group analyzed cancer survival rates from 2002 to 2006 and found five-year survival rates for 20 out of 25 cancer types differed by less than 3 percent between East and West and may therefore be regarded as almost identical.

"The fact that cancer survival rates have aligned in the former West and East German states demonstrated that the standardized health system has created comparable health chances for people in the East and in the West," Brenner said in a statement. "The dramatic differences in cancer survival rates have almost entirely disappeared, even though economic conditions continue to be different."

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