Thursday, May 22, 2008

Well, I guess it’s up to me to ask the uncouth yet obvious question: If U.S. health care is inferior to the systems of Canada and Europe, why wasn’t a rich and famous man like Senator Kennedy immediately sent to one of those places so that he could get the best care available?

As Whitecoat noted the other day, Kennedy was indeed transferred from Cape Cod Hospital, where he was initially admitted, and airlifted to … Massachusetts General Hospital. Why not Europe? Perhaps the answer lies in this international comparison of cancer survival rates for males:

UK cancer survival rate lowest in Europe
By Nicole Martin
Last Updated: 1:56AM BST 24/08/2007
Cancer survival rates in Britain are among the lowest in Europe, according to the most comprehensive analysis of the issue yet produced.

European cancer survival rates
England is on a par with Poland despite the NHS spending three times more on health care.

Survival rates are based on the number of patients who are alive five years after diagnosis and researchers found that, for women, England was the fifth worst in a league of 22 countries. Scotland came bottom. Cancer experts blamed late diagnosis and long waiting lists.

In total, 52.7pc of women survived for five years after being diagnosed between 2000 and 2002. Only Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Czech Republic and Poland did worse. Just 44.8pc of men survived, putting England in the bottom seven countries.

The team, writing in The Lancet Oncology, found that Britain's survival rates for the most common cancers - colorectal, lung, breast and prostate - were substantially behind those in Western Europe. In England, the proportion of women with breast cancer who were alive five years after diagnosis was 77.8pc. Scotland (77.3pc) and Ireland (76.2pc) had a lower rate.

Rates for lung cancer in England were poor, with only 8.4pc of patients surviving - half the rate for Iceland (16.8pc). Only Scotland (8.2pc) and Malta (4.6pc) did worse.

Fewer women in England lived for five years after being diagnosed with cervical cancer (58.6pc) despite a national screening programme. This compared to 70.6pc in Iceland. Dr Franco Berrino, who led the study at the National Cancer Institute in Milan, said cancer care was improving in countries that recorded low survival figures. He added: "If all countries attained the mean survival (57pc) of Norway, Sweden and Finland, about 12pc fewer deaths would occur in the five years after diagnosis."

His co-researcher, Prof Ian Kunkler from the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, said waiting lists for radiotherapy were partly to blame.

This table is from The Telegraph, which reported the results of a study first published in The Lancet. Despite the mountains of BS piled up by single-payer advocates (including Kennedy himself), it clearly showed that the U.S. health care system outperforms the “superior” systems of Europe.

A couple of weeks ago, John McCain was lambasted for having the audacity to say that U.S. health care was still the best in the world. It would appear that the Kennedy family agrees.

¶ Posted 21 May 2008 † Catron

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