OECD Data On Cancer In Iceland Inaccurate, Specialist Says - The Reykjavik Grapevine

OECD Data On Cancer In Iceland Inaccurate, Specialist Says

Published February 2, 2018

Alice Demurtas
Photos by
Mary Frances Davidson

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) report on increased mortality rates for breast cancer in Iceland might not be thoroughly accurate, according to local medical specialists. As we recently reported, the paper claimed that the highest mortality rate for breast cancer among the members of the organisation belongs to Iceland. 

Instead, Helgi Sigurðsson, Chief Medical Officer and Professor of Dentistry, told RUV that mortality rate investigations in Iceland should always take a five-year period into consideration instead of analysing data year by year, as it’s been done in the case of the OECD report. The population is in fact too small to be analysed with the same methodology used in countries like the US.

Helgi also mentions that life expectancy after cancer diagnosis in Iceland is very high and definitely not lower than in other countries. “This means there is a 90% likelihood of a woman being alive five years after being diagnosed with breast cancer,” Helgi explains. “That’s among the highest figures in the world.”

Even though there is a lot of progress in cancer treatment in Iceland, Helgi agrees that the service offered by the healthcare system can be improved. Furthermore, the real innovations seem to be coming from other Nordic countries, with Iceland having quite a lot of work to do in order to keep up with progress in the field.


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