A study released at the European Cancer Congress in Vienna on Saturday, described as the largest ever study of the disease, showed that cancer survival in Denmark continues to be far below that of similar nations.
While survival rates in northern Europe average 59.6 percent, Denmark's rate is at just 50.9 percent. Not only does that number put the nation near the bottom among all western European countries, it is far below the level in Nordic neighbours Sweden (64.7 percent survival rate), Finland (61.4), Iceland (61.2) and Norway (58.6).
Among western European countries, only the survival rates of England, Wales and Scotland are lower than in Denmark, which is at the same level as the Czech Republic.
Denmark's low survival rates are a double-edged sword, as the nation has the highest cancer rate in the world. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, Denmark has 338 cancer patients for every 100,000 residents.
Responding to the results of the European Cancer Congress report, which studied over 20 million cancer patients in 29 countries, the Danish Cancer Society (Kræftens Bekæmpelse) said that Denmark should establish a national centre for cancer treatment where all of the best resources for combating the disease are assembled under one roof.
“One of the problems in Denmark is that we have spread the research and treatment of cancer out over many different hospitals. And each time a patient moves from one hospital to another, they lose time and information. Thus the risk of mistakes and uncertainty are increased greatly,” society head Leif Vestergaard Pedersen told news agency Ritzau.
Pedersen said that streamlining cancer services would have a noticeable impact on survival rates.
“Some of the the most terrible stories are those about patients who have been to four or five hospitals before they come to a hospital that can make the diagnosis. By then an incredible amount of time has passed and the likelihood of effective treatment is reduced,” he said.
The results of the new European cancer study came in the same week that a comprehensive report on European health from the World Health Organization showed that Danish women have the shortest life expectancy in all of western Europe while Danish men were not much better off.
Danish women live to an average age of 82.1, while men have a life expectancy of 78 years. Both numbers are well below other western European countries.