OECD Health Policy Studies

2074-319X (online)
2074-3181 (print)
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This series of publications analyses the organisation and performance of health systems, and factors explaining performance variations. Studies are conducted on such topics as co-ordination of care, pharmaceutical pricing, long-term care and disability, health workforce and international migration of health workers, information and communications technologies in health care, and the economics of prevention. 
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Cancer Care

Cancer Care

Assuring Quality to Improve Survival You do not have access to this content

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30 Oct 2013
9789264181052 (PDF) ;9789264180963(print)

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More than five million new cases of cancer are diagnosed every year in OECD countries. Mortality rates are declining, but not as fast as for other big killers such as heart disease, and cancer survival rates show almost a four-fold difference across countries. In short, many countries are not doing as well as they could in the fight against cancer.

Cancer Care: Assuring Quality to Improve Survival surveys the policy trends in cancer care over recent  years and looks at survival rates to identify the why some countries are doing better than others. It sets out what governments should do to reduce the burden of cancer in their countries. As well as an adequate level of resourcing, a comprehensive national cancer control plan appears critical, emphasising initiatives such as early detection and fast-track treatment pathways. Countries also need better data, particularly for patients’ experiences of care, in order to provide high quality, continuously improving cancer care.

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  • Foreword

    Cancer remains a major health care challenge in OECD countries and the financial burden associated with cancer is also growing. However, despite recent improvements in cancer treatment and prevention, countries are not doing as well as they could to fight the disease: an estimated one-third of cases could be cured if detected on time and adequately treated, and another one-third could be prevented entirely if more far-reaching public health measures were in place. Furthermore, cancer survival data show almost a four-fold difference across OECD countries. While some countries are lagging behind in cancer care performance, other countries have designed systems that make them global leaders in the fight against cancer.

  • Acronyms and abbreviations
  • Executive summary

    Cancer remains a major health care challenge in all OECD countries. More than 5 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed every year in OECD countries, averaging about 261 cases per 100 000 people. Cancer is responsible for more than one-quarter of all deaths and, in terms of potential life years lost, is a bigger problem than heart attacks and strokes for both men and women.

  • Cancer care systems: Increasing burdens and existing performance gaps

    sets out why it is important to study cancer care. It shows that cancer remains a major challenge in all OECD countries, not only in terms of the immense human costs, but also with respect to the financial costs to the health sector, to patients and their families and to the wider economy. It also demonstrates marked differences in survival. This suggests an urgent need to understand whether particular policy approaches are associated with better outcomes.The chapter also explains the conceptual framework used to explore this policy question. Country-level information on cancer care systems and relevant policy approaches are gathered from standardised questionnaires based on this framework and interviews with cancer experts.

  • Resources for cancer care

    The variations in cancer care outcomes and spending described in suggest cross-country differences in resources dedicated to cancer care, in cancer care practice and in the governance of cancer care systems. covers resources for cancer care, one of the important domains in assessing the performance of cancer care systems.This chapter illustrates the cross-national variations in the availability of resources for cancer care, such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices and specialised institutions and health professionals, along with related policy trends.

  • Cancer care practice

    Besides providing an adequate level of cancer care resources and ensuring their adequate allocation, as discussed in , countries also aim to ensure that high-quality care is delivered throughout the various stages of the disease pathway. This chapter illustrates cross-country differences in cancer care practice, such as smoking reduction, screening, medical practices and waiting times. It also considers the various policy measures that countries have adopted, in addition to simply increasing resources, in their efforts to improve cancer care practice.

  • Governance of cancer care systems

    Over recent decades, countries have strengthened the governance of cancer care systems by introducing national cancer control programmes, and developing monitoring and quality assurance mechanisms. This chapter addresses the cross-country variation and trends related to governance surrounding cancer care.

  • Exploratory quantitative analysis

    This chapter describes the results of an exploratory analysis of the relation between cancer care system characteristics and cancer outcomes. It looks at the differences in cancer outcomes for breast, cervical, colorectal and lung cancer in 31 OECD countries for cancer patients followed-up between 2000 and 2002. The analysis tries to explain these differences through system characteristics related to the resources put into cancer care, the practice of cancer care and the governance of cancer care.

  • Policy recommendations

    sets out what governments should do to reduce the burden of cancer and improve performance of cancer care systems in their countries. The recommendations are based on different approaches countries have taken in tackling cancer in terms of resources, practice and governance, and associations found between particular policy approaches and the best survival for breast, cervical, colorectal and lung cancer.

  • List of experts on cancer care systems

    Sally Bullock, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

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