9 out of 10 kids are diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia will survive their cancer diagnosis in the United States. In Jordan, the survival rate for kids with acute lymphoblastic leukemia is 16%.
Cervical cancer patients have over 70% of a five-year survival rate in countries like Mauritius and Norway, however in Libya is under 40%.
These statistics were discovered during the largest cancer study ever published. It surveyed more than 25.7 million patients and revealed huge disparities in cancer survival worldwide.
According to one of the study’s authors, although this study is somber, there is also good news. In most countries, survival from some of the most common cancers has been improving.
More people are surviving breast cancer, colon cancer and stomach cancer than ever before. The survival rate from breast cancer in France and Finland is 87%. Data from other regions is just as encouraging. For example, Brazil’s breast cancer survival rate has gone up from 78% in 1999 to 87% in 2009.
According to the global oncology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, the reason that some countries lag behind is not surprising; it is a matter of how much is invested in cancer care.
Some doctors in Uganda just a few years ago were seeing 10,000 patients a year in a facility that had no roof, inconsistent electricity and no medications.
Cultural barriers can also interfere with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. For example, Uganda has 57 tribes, each with a different language. Most of the tribes do not have a word for cancer, so many people go a long time before they seek care, which is usually too late.
However there is hope, Uganda is opening a $10 million cancer center and smaller centers have sprung up elsewhere in Africa, in Latin America and in Southeast Asia.
But the study does make it clear that these are small steps and there is still a lot of work to be done. The study was unable to pinpoint how many people die from a certain cancer in some countries just because there wasn’t any good data.