Cancer Survival:

An International Comparison of Outcomes

PEMD-94-5: Published: Mar 7, 1994. Publicly Released: Mar 7, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO compared the survival of patients from the United States and from the Canadian province of Ontario diagnosed with selected forms of cancer and considered some of the factors possibly contributing to the observed results.

GAO found that: (1) the United States and Ontario share similar patterns of survival for lung cancer, colon cancer, Hodgkin's disease, and breast cancer; (2) the U.S. survival rate for breast cancer is consistently higher than the corresponding rate for Ontario; (3) although the U.S. survival rates for colon and lung cancer start higher than the corresponding rates for Ontario, the initial U.S. advantage for colon cancer is lost after 6 years and for lung cancer after 3 years; (4) there are no statistically significant differences in rates for Hodgkin's disease; (5) the initial U.S. advantage in colon cancer survival is retained for patients under 60, who constitute about 20 percent of all colon cancer patients; and (6) in three of the age-specific groups, Ontario's survival rates for patients with Hodgkin's disease may actually be slightly higher than the U.S. rate, as a result of age distribution differences.

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