Death rates from breast cancer have fallen more dramatically in the UK than any other European county, cancer researchers have said.

Good oh!

The study, which examined mortality rates in 30 countries over the past two decades, challenges claims that survival rates in the UK are worse than anywhere else in western Europe.

Ooooh, excellent. So we\’re going to see not just claims about how much better the NHS has got but a comparison of those actual rates are we? We\’re goign to, umm, challenge this incorrect perception?

Sadly, no, we don\’t. There\’s lots about how incredibly wonderful the improvement has been (and this is of course excellent news) but we don\’t in fact get a comparison of the actual rates.

So, we don\’t actually know whether the UK has better or worse survival rates than other European countries.

The UK has seen greater decreases in the number of women dying from breast cancer than many other European countries over this period, though this is partly because death rates were relatively high in the 1980s.

Nope, that\’s all we get. That the NHS is better than it was, which given that it was worse than other systems isn\’t all that surprising. But what we don\’t get told is whether the NHS is now better than other systems or is still worse.

Can\’t think why this point isn\’t discussed really: just cannot think of any reason at all why they might not highlight it.

6 thoughts on “Fascinating”

  1. Of course te NHS has got worse, what with all the investment and more new doctors and more new nurses and hospitals and modern equipment over the last ten years.

    We should really have left it as it was in 1997, with leaking roofs and dispirited and overworked staff. It was great then .. all those queues and patients on trolleys.

    We loved it really…

    ..such good times, and all gone now….

  2. Since survival rate is measured not from when you contract the illness but, inevitably, from when it is first detected, it follows that you are able to improve survival rates without extending a single life – just detect earlier, that’s all. This means that it is completely unknown whether it is a useful measure of anything whatever.

  3. dearieme,

    Does earlier detection tend to improve prognosis?

    Or are you saying we’re spending so much on detection that there’s no money left for treatment?

  4. The envy of the world is now 22nd out of 30 in the European league. Looking at the chart, the fall isn’t that much more than what Denmark and the Netherlands achieved (who we’ve just gone past).

  5. @Potarto: I’m saying that from the statistics no-one can tell. As it happens, years ago my wife worked on a research project assessing the effectiveness of mammography screening. Their conclusion was that it (i.e. mammography of non-symptomatic women in early middle age) was probably a poor idea because of the false positives and associated worry and unnecessary treatment, the false negatives, and the cost. Put bluntly, and adopting budgetary blinkers, the NHS could have done more good with the money if it hadn’t been splurged on a Politically Correct campaign. As the decades have passed, a similar conclusion has emerged from other projects in several countries. I suspect that the same may well be true of prostate cancer screening. Gerd Gigerenzer’s wonderful paperback on Risk gives an illuminating discussion.

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