Research released last month in the UK revealed that the odds of surviving lung cancer are significantly higher in Sweden than they are in England - despite that health care spending and the infrastructure in each country is similar - according to a comparison published in Thorax Today magazine.

Researchers based their findings on five year survival rates for 250,828 lung cancer patients diagnosed in England and 24,886 in Sweden between 1996 and 2004. Regardless of age, sex, and length of monitoring - all factors that are known to affect the outcome - survival rates were lowest in England and highest in Sweden.

Almost twice as many Swedish lung cancer patients survived five years compared to their English counterparts. 11.3% of Swedish men diagnosed with lung cancer survived five years compared to 6.5% for English men. Swedish women also fared better. About 16% of women diagnosed with lung cancer survived five years compared to only 8.4% of their British sisters.
The difference in death rates happened during the first year after diagnosis. The chances of a lung cancer patient in England dying in the first three months after diagnosis between 2001 and 2004 were between 56% and 91% higher than for a patient in Sweden.

British are less likely to be treated with surgery and medicine than Swedes. Smoking is also higher in the UK than it is in Sweden. "However, we cannot exclude that differences in treatment activity - whether related or not to other coexisting illnesses - plays a role," concluded the research team.

Resource: Thorax Today, British Medical Journal