Cancer care a ‘regional lottery’

The chances of surviving cancer depend on where in Sweden the patient lives. That is the conclusion of a report from Cancerfonden which highlights a series of failings and regional differences within Swedish cancer care.

The report, published on Tuesday, draws attention to the fact that Sweden does not have a national cancer plan, something which the World Health Organisation recommends. There is also too little investment in preventative care, wrote the general secretary of Cancerfonden, Ursula Tengelin and professor Bengt Westermark on the opinion page of Dagens Nyheter.

The writers give several examples of regional differences in care. In certain areas there are queues for radiotherapy, while in other parts of the country radiation units stand idle.

The risk of dying within 30 days of rectal surgery is three times higher in certain hospitals than in others.

Tengelin and Westermark called for a cancer plan which includes national goals for cutting the incidence and mortality rates. They also argued that there should be strategies in place at every level of the care chain to ensure that these targets are reached.

The report emphasised the social services’ responsibility for coordinating staff and equipment nationally, as well as the need for better distribution of research findings to patients.

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