International News Desk – At Home: Canada ranks tops for cancer survival rates – In Foreign News: Militant actions curb polio vaccine program

International News Desk – At Home: Canada ranks tops for cancer survival rates – In Foreign News: Militant actions curb polio vaccine program

At Home: Canada ranks tops for cancer survival rates

In spite of the increasingly dismal stories about the state of Canadian health care, it seems this country is still one of the best places to be when it comes to surviving certain types of cancer.

A recent international study, the CONCORD study, compared survival rates in 31 countries for four cancers: prostate cancer, breast cancer in women, and colorectal cancer in both men and women.

As the CBC reports, Canada consistently ranked among the top countries when it came to estimated five-year survival rates for those cancers.

The news is especially heartening because the study found large variations between countries, and ?even within some nations? borders.?

In the overall rankings of patient survival rates, the study places Canada second for breast cancer, third for prostate and for colorectal cancer in women, and sixth for colorectal cancer in men. The study will be published online as well as in the August edition of the Lancet Oncology.

The study’s principal author, Dr. Michel Coleman, is a professor of epidemiology and vital statistics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

?Canada is an interesting example,? he told reporters. ?What we think is quite striking is that for all of these cancers, the survival in Canada is high and pretty uniform. There isn’t much difference between the Canadian provinces.?

The Canadian data represented 58 per cent of the country’s population, and was pulled from cancer registries in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and British Columbia.

Dr. Coleman noted that Canadian cancer survival rates are not only similar nationwide, but are also ?pretty high on a global scale.?

Data from Australia, which has a universal health care system comparable to Canada’s, yielded similar results.

Overall, the best breast and prostate cancer survival rates were recorded by the United States, while Japan held top spot for colorectal cancer survival in men, and France for colorectal cancer in women.

An interesting comparison to Canada’s figures is those of the United States. While the States had the best, or among the best, overall survival rates, there were wider variations nation-wide, with some American patients faring much better than others.

Dr. John McLaughlin, vice-president of population studies and surveillance for Cancer Care Ontario, called the study’s findings ?extremely useful,? noting that ?Knowing where we do measure . . . is the beginning of us being able to improve on it for every program related to cancer.?

In Foreign News: Militant actions curb polio vaccine program

In many cases, the physical effects of armed conflicts are obvious. But news this week that militant actions may be causing a rise in polio is a reminder that those effects spread far wider than bombings and gunfire.

As the Turkish Daily News reports, an eight-month-old Pakistani girl has recently tested positive for polio, likely due to the effects of militant activity on vaccination programs.

Anti-polio vaccination teams working in the area where the girl lives, Pakistan’s Swat Valley, have been subjected to beatings and intimidation by militants.

Prior to the diagnosis of the baby girl, the last known case of polio in the area was reported in 2003.

Khalid Nawaz, with the World Health Organization, told reporters that the vaccination program in approximately half the Swat Valley has been disrupted since September 2007, when fighting began between militants and government security forces. Threats to health workers have been one of the results of that conflict.

A tenuous peace deal has now been brokered between the government and militants, and health authorities are hoping to resume vaccinations in the area.

%d bloggers like this: