Quality of cancer prevention and treatment

27 November, 2018

Dear HIFA colleagues,

I was interested to see this BBC news item. Extracts below and comment from me. Full text here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-46349989


Cancer care: England still lagging behind the best

England has failed to close the gap on the best-performing nations when it comes to cancer care despite 20 years of trying, analysis suggests.

The review by the Health Foundation of the government's record between 1995 and 2015 said that despite four strategies setting ambitious goals, the NHS was still lagging behind the best.

It said if services were improved, 10,000 lives could be saved each year.

Ensuring earlier diagnosis was key, it said...


Comment (Neil): The deifinition of 'saved' is unclear. In the BBC news article it is defined as 'prevented each year with better diagnosis' (better treatment is not mentioned). The report itself says '10,000 lives could be saved a year if England’s survival rates were as good as the best in Europe'. Estimates of the number of lives that could be 'saved' each year due to better diagnosis and treatment of cancer would be useful

comparators for quality of prevention/care in different countries.

The full report is available here:


The report is a reminder that many people in every country do not benefit from advances in modern medicine. The numbers who do not benefit in LMICs are, of course, dramatically higher, where many of not most preventable deaths occur not due to failure to provide the latest advanced treatment, but to failure to provide simple life-threatening interventions (interventions that are often locally available but simply not provided).

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 18,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. He also currently chairs the Dgroups Foundation (www.dgroups.info), which supports 800 communities of practice on international development, health and social justice. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG /orcid.org/0000-0001-9557-1487 neil@hifa.org