Poor at greater risk of death in cancer: study

June 23rd, 2008 - 12:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 23 (IANS) Cancer patients from low income groups receive less pro-active treatment and have a higher risk of dying within five years of diagnosis, according to a new US study. While racial and ethnic disparities in diagnosis and cancer treatment and in risk of death have been documented, the role of socio-economic status along with these factors has been less well studied.

Researchers at the University of Colorado documented treatment received and five-year mortality rates from multiple medical record sources for 13,598 three types of cancer cases diagnosed in seven states in 1997.

They also determined the socio-economic status of the neighbourhood of each patient.

Their analysis revealed that for all three types of cancers, those from low socio-economic status had more advanced stages of cancer and received less aggressive treatment.

For example, women from such backgrounds were less likely to receive radiation treatment after a lumpectomy or to receive anti-estrogen therapy when diagnosed with an estrogen receptor positive (ER+) tumour.

Similarly, men with prostate cancer were less likely to have been treated by prostatectomy or radiation compared to men from economically better off areas.

Both men and women were less likely to receive chemotherapy for colorectal cancer.

For all three types of cancer, patients who lived in poorer neighbourhoods were more likely to die within five years of cancer diagnosis than other patients.

While African Americans and Hispanics were more likely than non-Hispanic whites to have lived in such areas, investigators said the low socio-economic factor was apparent for all racial and ethnic groups.

The findings of the study are slated to appear in the forthcoming issue of the journal Cancer.

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