Around the world, cancer survival rates are affected by a number of factors, including the types of cancer and stages at which they are diagnosed, and the availability, accessibility and quality of treatment and care services. For many cancers, there are vast disparities in survival rates between countries, reflecting broader disparities in resource availability and health system functioning.
For example, for cancers for which outcomes are significantly affected by screening and/or treatment, such as female breast, colorectal and certain childhood cancers, there are large survival differences between high-resource and low-resource countries (American Cancer Society, Global Cancer Facts & Figures, 2nd Edition, 2011). In contrast, for cancers with less opportunity for early detection or effective treatment (poor prognosis), such as oesophagus, liver, lung, and pancreatic cancer, survival rates vary little between countries (American Cancer Society, 2011).
In many high-resource countries, survival rates for some cancers are increasing, meaning more people are living longer with cancer.
Outcomes for cancer patients, their experiences of cancer and those of their families and health professionals, are impacted by the law in multiple ways. At a broad level, the issues facing cancer patients and their families often reflect more general issues relating to the interactions of patients facing other life-limiting or chronic illnesses, their families and health professionals with the health system.
Relevant issues include the way the law impacts on:
- capacity to make informed decisions about treatment (both during and in advance of treatment) and to have these decisions respected
- return to work and attendance at work during treatment, after treatment and while managing side effects of treatment (for example, the application of discrimination law)
- provision of relevant and accessible information about the costs of treatment options
- access to social security benefits, insurance (eg travel and health) and travel support for treatment
- access of family members to results of genetic testing
- regulation of unsound or unethical treatment practices and false or misleading treatment claims.
In addition, the law is critical to the accessibility of safe, effective, affordable, high-quality medicines for cancer treatment. Click on this link for more information on access to medicines .
Making the law work better for people affected by cancer
Australian Research Council Linkage grant on end-of-life decision-making
Cancer Council Victoria: Cancer Information and Support