How countries differ in health expenditures and cancer revival.
In times like these, times of crisis, we know that everything must be fit into a very tight budget. We feel it at home, at work, it’s everywhere we look. But what happens when it affects our health? What about hospitals not being able to get us the best treatment available? It is known that we often don’t get the ultimate treatment, but still.
In order to sustain successful treatment of patients, money should be spent on resources. But it turns out that the amounts spent by governments couldn’t differ more between countries. This might be affecting patient survival.
A study performed by Ades et al. has determined that government’s health expenditures are crucial for cancer mortality. The more money is made available, the lower the rates of cancer mortality. They even found a higher incidence of cancer in countries with higher health expenditure per capita. These authors specifically analyzed the case of breast cancer, which seems to be even more closely associated with health expenditure.
Dr. Ades, researcher from this study, enlightens us: “In countries spending less than 2,000 dollars per capita on health care, like Romania, Poland and Hungary, around 60% of the patients die after a diagnosis of cancer. In countries spending between 2,500-3,500 dollars this figure is around 40% and 50%, as in the case for Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. Moving up to around 4,000 dollars, spent in France, Belgium and Germany, less than 40% of the patients die.”
There is another simple explanation for all of these cases: if there are better screening programmes, the probability of finding cancer in an early stage is enhanced and this is essential to the success of a treatment and low mortality rates.
Obviously, we cannot neglect the fact that cancer is a multifactorial disease, being influenced by lifestyle factors or environmental exposure to carcinogenic agents among other factors, and that there are much intricacies which can determine its incidence and mortality across countries. Nevertheless, money spent on resources seems to be the most significant, overlapping all the others.
Ades F, Senterre C, de Azambuja E, Sullivan R, Popescu R, Parent F, & Piccart M (2013). Discrepancies in cancer incidence and mortality and its relationship to health expenditure in the 27 European Union member states. Annals of oncology : official journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology / ESMO PMID: 24078620
Photo: Flickr, 401(K) 2013