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.