Health Care Quality:

How Does the United States Compare with Other Countries on Cancer Survival and Access to Bone Marrow Transplantation?

T-PEMD-94-21: Published: Apr 14, 1994. Publicly Released: Apr 14, 1994.

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GAO discussed the quality of health care in the United States, focusing on: (1) a comparison of survival rates for cancer patients in the United States and Ontario; and (2) the availability and appropriateness of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation in the treatment of leukemia. GAO noted that: (1) cancer patients in the United States and Ontario share strikingly similar patterns of survival for different types of cancer; (2) similarities in survival exist for patients of different age, sex, and year of diagnosis; (3) breast cancer patients in the United States experience a slightly but consistently higher level of survival than Ontario's breast cancer patients; (4) U.S. patients with Hodgkin's disease, colon cancer, and lung cancer demonstrate higher survival rates than their counterparts from Ontario, but U.S. survival rates decrease between 1 and 6 years after diagnosis; (5) until the effect on survival of possible variations in detection practices can be determined, the implications of any differences in measured survival for quality of care will remain unclear; (6) U.S. cancer patients are less likely to receive bone marrow transplants than patients in 6 other countries; (7) U.S. cancer patients are among those least likely to receive their transplants at the most appropriate point in the progression of their disease; and (8) in all likelihood, many U.S. cancer patients have received bone marrow transplants when the procedure was not necessary.

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