Canada's survival rates for cancers among highest: OECD

However, wait times, 'adverse events' a concern
||Last Updated: 11/28/2011

Canada’s survival rates for breast and colorectal cancer are among the highest among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. Canada also does well in primary care, preventing costly hospital admissions from chronic conditions such as asthma and uncontrolled diabetes.

However, high in-hospital adverse events and long waiting times are a concern, according to a report from the OECD.

The five-year relative survival rate for breast cancer in Canada during 2004-2009 was 87 per cent, the third highest among OECD countries after the United States and Japan (the OECD average is 84 per cent). For colorectal cancer, it was 64 per cent for females and 63 per cent for males, slightly higher than the OECD average (62 per cent for females and 60 per cent for males).

Avoidable hospital admissions for asthma complications and uncontrolled diabetes are much lower in Canada than the OECD average, said Health at a Glance. For asthma admissions, the rate in Canada was 16 per 100,000 adults in 2009, one-third the OECD average of 52. For uncontrolled diabetes, Canada’s rate of 15 was also well below the OECD average of 50.

Certain in-hospital adverse events are higher in Canada. Obstetric trauma (vaginal delivery with instruments) occurred in 13.7 per cent of deliveries (the OECD average is 5.5 per cent). And the rates of a foreign body being left in during a procedure, and accidental puncture or laceration, were also high, although Canada’s standing may be adversely affected by its more complete data recording, said the report.

Waiting times to receive care were the highest in Canada, in an 11-country survey. In 2010, 59 per cent of respondents reported waiting four weeks or more to see a specialist, and 25 per cent for four months or more for elective surgery, said OECD.

Health expenditure
Canada spent 11.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) on health in 2009, more than the OECD average of 9.6 per cent. Spending per person is also higher than the OECD average.

•Total health spending accounted for 11.4 per cent of GDP in Canada in 2009, compared with an average of 9.6 per cent across OECD countries. The U.S.(17.4 per cent), the Netherlands (12 per cent), France (11.8 per cent) and Germany (11.6 per cent) had a higher share.
•Canada’s spending on health per person is also higher than the OECD average, with spending of $4,363 in 2009, adjusted for purchasing power parity. The average was $3,233. Per capita health spending over 2000-2009 grew in real terms by 3.7 per cent in Canada, slightly less than the OECD average of four per cent.
The public sector is the main source of health funding in all OECD countries, except Chile, Mexico and the United States. In Canada, 71 per cent of health spending was funded by public sources in 2009, similar to the average of 72 per cent for OECD countries.

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