Lung cancer in Europe not prioritised despite poor survival rates
6 June 2008
The fragmented organisation and management of lung cancer diagnosis
and care in many European countries are exacerbating already poor
survival rates amongst patients with the disease. That is the conclusion
of a new report from a group of leading Swedish researchers .
There is a great need to improve outcomes for patients with lung
cancer. It is the most lethal form of cancer in Europe and causes
between 15-28% of all cancer deaths. The burden lung cancer places on
patients and their relatives is profound; it also places a significant
economic burden on society.
"There is a real need to improve survival and outcomes for people
with lung cancer" said Nils Wilking of the Karolinska Institutet and
primary author of the report. "We hope that this report will help both
stimulate and measure the success of developments and changes in lung
cancer services and ultimately improve patient outcomes."
Key findings in the report include:
- Late diagnosis of lung cancer is the most important factor
explaining low survival rates. Almost 90% of people diagnosed with
lung cancer die within 5 years.
- Once diagnosed, the fragmented organization and management of
lung cancer care in many countries are affecting timely access for
patients to the most appropriate treatment.
- The countries in which survival is best tend to have better
provision of radiotherapy equipment, as well as better patient
access to modern lung cancer drugs.
- Lung cancer takes a relatively large share of overall healthcare
spending for cancer ranging from 6.6% in Finland to a maximum of
9.9% in Hungary. Of this, hospital care uses a relatively large
share of the direct costs, for example 93% in Germany; 86% in Sweden
and 77% in the Netherlands. The amount spent on ambulatory — mainly
outpatient care — is much smaller 4% 13% and 9% for the same
countries respectively and drug costs account for the least amount
of spend, for example 3%, 1% and 3.5% respectively.
- Apart from improving access to modern cancer drugs it is
important to introduce effective measures in prevention and early
detection through well structured and administered cancer registries
to track any changes that these and other organisational changes may
The report includes data from 20 countries: Austria, Belgium, the
Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary,
Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia,
Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. The selection of countries was
based on available data sources as well as input from key opinion
leaders within the selected countries.
1. Wilking, N, Hogberg D and Jönsson B. Benchmarking
Report of Lung Cancer Care in selected European Countries. Karolinska
Institutet, i3 Innovus, Stockholm School of Economics, 2008.
The report can be downloaded from: