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01.03.2012 | Original Article | Ausgabe 3/2012

Supportive Care in Cancer 3/2012

Inequalities in access to cancer treatment: an analysis of cross-regional patient mobility in Greece

Supportive Care in Cancer > Ausgabe 3/2012
Kostas Athanasakis, Kyriakos Souliotis, Elias-John Kyriopoulos, Evangelia Loukidou, Persefoni Kritikou, John Kyriopoulos



The quest of specialized oncology services represents an inelastic need for cancer patients that often leads to traveling in order to receive adequate care. The present survey assesses patient geographic mobility to access services for the prevention and treatment of neoplasmatic diseases in Greece, a country where the National Health System is characterized by severe misdistribution of oncology-specific resources.


Based on data from the National Statistical Service for 1999–2005 (last available), we estimated geographic mobility as the difference between oncology patients residing in a specific region and those receiving care in National Health System (NHS) facilities located in the region, for the ten administrative districts of Greece. Especially for Attica, we performed a sub-analysis according to cancer diagnosis.


The most significant mobility is towards Attica, where patients receiving care within the region outnumber the patients actually residing by 48.9% annually, on average. Positive flows are also observed towards Macedonia (8.4%) and Epirus (7.8%). Negative flows are recorded in all remaining regions, the highest noticed in Sterea (−76.2%), Ionian Islands (−63.3%), Aegean Islands (−45.2%), and Thessaly (−37.3%). The largest flow towards Attica is for cases of malignant neoplasms of the skin, uterus, male genital organs, and for Hodgkin’s lymphomas.


Misallocation of oncology-specific resources creates “two-tier” cancer patients based on ability to pay for traveling/accommodation. The severity and the consequences of the disease necessitate a bold approach to resource allocation and the establishment of integrated patient support networks that ensure all cancer patients are offered equal opportunities to effective treatment.

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