Socioeconomic status predicts survival of Canadian cancer patients

August 2, 2010

A new analysis from Canada has found that cancer patients from poorer communities have a greater chance of dying prematurely than individuals from more affluent backgrounds even though cancer stage at time of diagnosis is similar across socioeconomic groups. Published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study indicates that efforts are needed to understand and reduce disparities in the survival of cancer patients from different socioeconomic groups.

Christopher Booth, MD, FRCPC, of the Queen's University Cancer Research Institute in Ontario, Canada led a team that analyzed all cases of breast, colon, rectal, non-small cell lung, cervical, and laryngeal cancer diagnosed in Ontario, Canada from 2003 to 2007, as identified through the Ontario Cancer Registry. Patients were divided into groups based on median household income reported in the 2001 Canadian census.

The investigators observed only very modest differences in at the time of diagnosis across , contrasting with much of the existing literature. "It is plausible that the lack of a strong association between stage of disease and socioeconomic status in our study relates to the presence of universal health coverage in Ontario which may facilitate access to and/or ," said Dr. Booth.

However, the researchers found that despite universal healthcare, significant differences in survival across socioeconomic groups persist in Ontario: overall and cancer-specific survival of patients from poorer communities was lower than that of patients residing in more affluent neighborhoods. "Contrary to what has been reported in studies from the U.S., we have found that stage of cancer at time of diagnosis does not account for any substantial component of the difference in survival across social groups," said Dr. Booth. Instead, factors such as differences in cancer biology, the presence of other illnesses, access to treatment, and quality of care might play a role. The authors noted that additional work is needed to better understand these factors and to develop strategies to reduce disparities in the survival of patients with cancer.

Explore further: Survival differences by race most apparent in advanced stages of breast cancer

More information: "The impact of socioeconomic status on stage of cancer at diagnosis and survival: a population-based study in Ontario, Canada." Christopher M. Booth, Gavin Li, Jina Zhang-Salomons, and William J. Mackillop. CANCER; Published Online: August 2, 2010 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.25427).

Related Stories

Disparities in head and neck cancer patients

October 6, 2008

A new analysis finds considerable disparities in survival related to race and socio-economic status among patients with head and neck cancer. Published in the November 15, 2008 issue of Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of ...

Recommended for you

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

Quantum Theory May Explain Wishful Thinking

April 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Humans don’t always make the most rational decisions. As studies have shown, even when logic and reasoning point in one direction, sometimes we chose the opposite route, motivated by personal bias or simply ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.