Germany, a place often recognized for its scientific and medical innovation, ranks only in the middle among the nations included in the study. The survey looks at cancer survival rates for leading industrialized countries like Japan, Australia, several EU members, and three developing nations - Algeria, Brazil and Cuba.
When it comes to breast cancer survival rates, Germany ranked number 15 with a 75 percent survival rate five years after treatment. The United States had the highest breast cancer survival rate at 84 percent.
Germany did slightly better in prostate cancer survival rates, gaining fifth among the 31 nations included in the study at 76 percent. But this rate was still well below the 92 percent treatment success rate in the United States. Colon cancer survival rates were also lacklustre, with Germany ranked number 10 for female survival of colon cancer, and number 13 for male survival.
The study by Michel Coleman and colleagues from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine explored 1.9 million tumour registries from 31 countries to see how long people survived after undergoing cancer treatment. Data included patients who had been diagnosed with a first-time, primary, invasive breast, colon, rectum and prostate cancer from 1990 to 1999. Survival rates of these patients were then followed until 1999.
"This is, to our knowledge, the first worldwide analysis of cancer survival, with standard quality-control procedures and identical analytic methods for all datasets," researchers summarized on The Lancet's website on Friday.
According to Hermann Brenner from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, Germany's unremarkable ranking in the study comes from the years in which the data was collected. "In the time between now and then crucial things have happened," he told German news magazine Der Spiegel on Thursday, adding that early detection programs for breast and colon cancer have improved significantly.
Another factor in the country's disappointing study standing could be differences in therapy facilities, Brenner said. The United States has a higher concentration of special cancer treatment centres, which offers an opportunity for developments in treatment that are demonstrated in the figures, Brenner said. This kind of development simply started later in Germany, he added.