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Swedes better than Brits at beating cancer: study

30 Jan 2013, 08:14

Published: 30 Jan 2013 08:14 GMT+01:00

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Researchers have puzzled over why the UK has lower cancer survival rate in comparison to other countries with more or less free access to healthcare and well-developed cancer treatments.

While Swedes diagnosed with lung cancer between 2005 and 2007 had a 44 percent chance of surviving at least one year, Britons only had a 30 percent one-year survival rate.

In an attempt to uncover what may lie behind the cancer survival discrepancy, researchers in the UK compared knowledge about and attitudes toward cancer among 30,000 men and women over 50 in Britain, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

The results indicate that Briton's famed "stiff upper lip" in the face of adversity may not be the best strategy for surviving cancer.

Swedes, on the other hand, seem to benefit from their willingness to see the doctor at the first sign of illness.

While knowledge of cancer symptoms was roughly the same across all the countries, researchers found differences in when people decide to visit a doctor.

The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, revealed that 34 percent of Britons who experienced minor symptoms were worried about taking up their doctors' time unnecessarily, while only 9 percent of Swedes experienced similar reservations about booking an appointment.

Researchers also found differences in the awareness of cancer risks. Only 13 percent of Canadians and 14 percent of Britons were aware of such risks, compared to 38 percent among Swedes.

Story continues below…

TT/The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

13:49 January 30, 2013 by cogito
The elderly denied cancer treatment in the U.K.

22:19 January 30, 2013 by shinnam
With the high drop-out rates in the US, should Sweden be looking at copying this policy ? There are some students that need to go work for a while to get their priorities straight. I was one of them.
13:33 January 31, 2013 by SimonDMontfort
@ Cogito. The Daily Telegraph headline talks of the elderly "sometimes" being denied treatment

My mother was 75 when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in England. The NHS NEVER questioned her entitlement to treatment. She received an operation from a top specialist - given extensive after care (and into the bargain, had cataract operations on both eyes). Certainly NO age discrimination there.

My Swedish partner's mother was recently rushed to hospital for an operation - which had to be repeated, as it wasn't done properly the first time. We had enormous difficulty getting info about what was going on from medical staff - and now, bills have started arriving for the ambulance trip, soon to be followed by another one for the stay in hospital. My partner's mother is worried about finding the money.

I suppose thelocal.se loves headlines that begin "Swedes better than Brits…" My point is that I would choose to be 'ill' in the UK, rather than Sweden any day
19:33 February 1, 2013 by The reality is
Sweden may be better at cancer treatment, but public healthcare for virtually everything else is hit and miss. The public systems have evolved to serve the healthcare administrators, doctors and nurses, and long ago left the patient by the way side as a necessary nuisance and a means to a paycheck for providers. Customers at a pizzeria are often given more respect and better treatment than patients in Swedish public healthcare. It is particularly bad in North Sweden.

After 4.5 years of failed treatment, made necessary by a serious of doctor's errors in diagnosis and treatment, I now need to go to the US to get quality expert care to correct the repeated failures and subsequent damage caused by a Swedish system. The Swedish healthcare system seems to have given up on cleaning up there mess in a timely and respectful manner. Perverse.

The act that finally forced me from Swedish healthcare to seek care in the US was that I was treated during the last year by a doctor that was found to be mentally (age related) incompetent soon after he provided treated. This doctor's mental incompetence and the systemic failure of the healthcare systems leadership and management that have allowed a mentally incapacitated doctor to continue practicing is just a few indications of institution-wide failure at every level and across the breadth of the healthcare system.

What should have been simple and quick treatment from the start has evolved into what will be a lifelong struggle to deal with issues caused by multiple counts of medical malpractice by a Swedish public healthcare system in North Sweden.

I suppose it is no wonder that the Swedish government has announced a complete overhaul of its laws regarding accountability and responsibility regarding healthcare systems and providers. The current laws are not only ineffective; they are also not enforced.

If you can manage the Swedish language, you search on the web to find many people in Sweden suffering unnecessarily at the hands of public healthcare systems and that my encounters and the resulting health impacts of a failed Swedish healthcare systems are all to common.

Get the real story about how poor Swedish healthcare is from this Swedish State reports in English:


For example, you will see that in some Swedish systems, more than 40% of surgeries not performed in the 90 days specified by Swedish "law". I say "law" because there is no punishment for healthcare systems failing to meet the time requirements outlined in Swedish law.
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