OECD Health Data 2009

Screening challenge

One in nine women are diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their life and one in thirty die from the disease. Though survival rates are improving, due to a combination of increased awareness, earlier diagnosis and better treatments with innovative drugs, there are considerable differences in measured outcomes of cancer control across OECD countries. For example, while close to 90% of women aged 50-69 are screened annually in the Netherlands and Finland, only around 20% of women in that age group are screened in the Slovak Republic and Japan. Some countries that had low screening rates in 2000, such as the Czech and Slovak Republics, showed sharp increases by 2006, whereas some countries with already high rates, such as the US, Finland and Norway, reported declines.

While Korea and Japan are the exceptions to the general decline in breast cancer mortality rates in OECD countries, the increases are small and their mortality levels continue to be the lowest among OECD countries. The disparities in mortality and survival rates across OECD countries suggest there is room for more analysis and understanding about this disease. As with all cancers, the causes and approaches surrounding breast cancer are varied and complex. The OECD is engaged in a dedicated project on cancer care more broadly whose preliminary results will be released in 2010 before the October health ministerial.

©OECD Observer No 276-277 December 2009-January 2010




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