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Last month, the largest ever international survey of cancer survival rates showed that in the U.S., women have a 63% chance of living at least five years after diagnosis, and men have a 66% chance — the highest survival rates in the world. These figures reflect the care available to all Americans, not just those with private health coverage. In Great Britain, which has had a government-run universal health-care system for half a century, the figures were 53% for women and 45% for men, near the bottom of the 23 countries surveyed.

A 2006 study in the journal Respiratory Medicine showed that lung cancer patients in the U.S. have the best chance of surviving five years — about 16%. Patients in Austria and France fare almost as well, and patients in the United Kingdom do much worse with only 5% living five years. A report released in May from the Commonwealth Fund showed that women in the U.S. are more likely to get a PAP test every two years than women in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K., where health insurance is guaranteed by the government. In the U.S. 85% of women ages 25-64 have regular PAP smears, compared with 58% in the U.K.

The same is true for mammograms. In the U.S., 84% of women ages 50-64 get them regularly, a higher percentage than in Australia, Canada or New Zealand, and far higher than the 63% of women in the U.K. The high rate of screening in the U.S. reflects access as well as educational efforts by the American Cancer Society and others.

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