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18 Mar 2024

New findings from International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership (ICBP) shed a light on contributing factors to UK’s cancer survival rates

Recent findings from a population-based study by International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership (ICBP) were published this month in Lancet Oncology, comparing the use of chemotherapy in patients across different countries. Their recent study examines the variation in overall use and time to chemotherapy between several high-income jurisdictions, alongside related interjurisdictional variation by age group, sex, and cancer site. The findings of this study highlight what may well be one of the factors contributing to the UK’s lagging behind other, comparable countries when it comes to survival.

In the study published, the ICBP sheds new light on potential factors influencing survival differences, focusing on the utilization of chemotherapy and radiotherapy—two cornerstone treatments in cancer care. Examining treatment data from the UK, Norway, Australia, and Canada, the study reveals stark differences in treatment approaches across all eight cancer types studied.

Analysing data from over 780,000 individuals diagnosed across three continents between 2012 and 2017, the study underscores a concerning trend: individuals in the UK receive chemotherapy and radiotherapy less frequently and experience prolonged treatment initiation times compared to counterparts in other countries. Notably, individuals aged 85 and over in the UK are the least likely group to receive chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Commenting on the UK’s lower usage of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Dr. John Butler, clinical lead for the ICBP, said: “Lower use of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in the UK could impact people’s chances of survival, especially for older patients.”

“Although we have made progress, the last benchmark showed that cancer survival in the UK is still around 10 to 15 years behind leading countries. This study captures missed opportunities for patients in the UK to receive life-prolonging treatment.”

With the global cancer burden continuing to rise, addressing disparities in treatment access and outcomes remains a pressing priority. The latest research from the ICBP underscores the urgent need for targeted interventions to improve chemotherapy and radiotherapy utilisation and enhance patient care. As the ICBP embarks on the next phase of research, workforce considerations will be a key focus area, aiming to glean insights from high-performing jurisdictions to mitigate workforce and capacity challenges.

You can read the full study here