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Portugal in Europe’s Top 10 for survival rates in breast, stomach and prostate cancers

At last, the kind of health news the country’s SNS national health system has been waiting for.

British medical journal The Lancet has cited Portugal in Europe’s Top 10 when it comes to survival rates for certain cancers (breast, stomach and prostate) – while there have been significant improvements in the treatment of colon and rectal cancers as well.

Indeed, the Concord-3 study shows that survival rates in Portugal “have increased in practically all tumors”, explains Sol, “with the exception of some oscillations in the rarest tumors”.

And even in the 15-year period taking in previous Concord studies, there have been “significant differences” between patients diagnosed at the turn of the millennium and more recently.

Concord-3 correlated data from over 37 million patients in 71 countries.

Investigators analysing Portuguese statistics, Michel Coleman and Claudia Allemani, stressed that being in the Top 10 means a great deal.

“Very often, the difference between the first and the 10th position is not very much”, they explained.

In percentage terms, survival for five years of children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia has gone from 80.8% since the first study to 89.8%.

Liver cancer survival has spiked from 13.6% to 18.7%, lung cancer from 10.6% to 15.6% – and “five years after diagnosis, in the case of pancreatic cancer, today it is possible to have one in 10 adults survive at least five years”.

Tables published in the Lancet, reveal that when it isn’t in the Top 10, Portugal comes in the middle “but never at the end.

“Among the more frequent cancers, colon and rectal tumors occupy the 15th and 16th slots in the European ranking, for example”, say Coleman and Allemani, suggesting the way forwards is making people aware that the sooner their illness is ‘discovered’, the higher their likelihood of survival.

To this end, the study ends with the predictably gloomy “certainty” that with life expectancy extending, more and more cases of cancer are expected.

Says Sol, an increase of 50% is likely by 2030, translating into 21.6 million new cases of cancer every year.

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