-“When we lost our coverage, he couldn’t go for routine check-ups.”

Half sobbingly, the patient was telling me why her husband—who had had high PSA values without any evidence of a neoplasia for years—had passed away in 2010 after an emergency admission due to his sudden inability to urinate. They diagnosed an inoperable prostate cancer and they could only offer him some palliative care to ease the pain.

Dr. Mahiben Maruthappu et al. studied the effects of unemployment and the loss of health coverage on cancer mortality, employing the data spanning the period 1990-2010 from the World Bank and the World Health Organization. Data was available from 75 countries, representing 2.106 billion people.

They aggregated mortality data for breast cancer in women, prostate cancer in men, and colorectal cancers in men and women, which are associated with survival rates over 50% into a curable cancer class. They also aggregated data for lung and pancreatic cancer, which have 5 years-survival rates of less than 10%, into an untreatable cancer class. In the regression analysis they controlled for country-specific demographics and infrastructure.

The Unemployment rises were significantly associated with an increase in all-cancer mortality and all-specific cancers except lung cancer in women. But the untreatable cancer mortality was not significantly linked with them. As the Public Health expenditures (PHE) rose the treatable cancer and specific mortalities significantly decreased. A time-series analysis estimated that there was an excess of 40,000 deaths due to a subset of treatable cancers in 2008-2010, based on previously published trends.

The authors hypothesize that, based on their studies, there might have been an excess of 260,000 deaths due to treatable cancers with affordable means in the OECD countries alone.The Organization for Economic Development is considered a rich countries’ club where the access to the necessary health care services is supposedly good for all its citizens.

One can only wonder what these numbers look like in the less privileged countries.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

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