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Br J Cancer. 2009 Mar 10;100(5):858-62. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604945. Epub 2009 Feb 24.

Cancer survival discrepancies in developed and developing countries: comparisons between the Philippines and the United States.

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Division of Clinical Epidemiology and Aging Research, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany.


Despite the availability of population-based cancer survival data from the developed and developing countries, comparisons remain very few. Such comparisons are important to assess the magnitude of survival discrepancies and to disentangle the impact of ethnic background and health care access on cancer survival. Using the SEER 13 database and databases from the Manila and Rizal Cancer Registries in the Philippines, a 5-year relative survival for 9 common cancers in 1998-2002 of Filipino-American cancer patients were compared with both cancer patients from the Philippines, having the same ethnicity, and Caucasians in the United States, being exposed to a similar societal environment and the same health care system. Survival estimates were much higher for the Filipino-Americans than the Philippine resident population, with particularly large differences (more than 20-30% units) for cancers with good prognosis if diagnosed and treated early (colorectal, breast and cervix), or those with expensive treatment regimens (leukaemias). Filipino-Americans and Caucasians showed very similar survival for all cancer sites except stomach cancer (30.7 vs 23.2%) and leukaemias (37.8 vs 48.4%). The very large differences in the survival estimates of Filipino-Americans and the Philippine resident population highlight the importance of the access to and utilisation of diagnostic and therapeutic facilities in developing countries. Survival differences in stomach cancer and leukaemia between Filipino-Americans and Caucasians in the United States most likely reflect biological factors rather than the differences in access to health care.

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