First-of-its-kind research shows even when accounting for other risk factors, poorer patients are less likely to survive cancer diagnosis
For the first time, researchers were able to analyze cancer survival rates for breast, lung, colorectal and prostate cancers while removing the effect of other health risks.
The difference in survival rates – a 10 per cent relative change in the case of colorectal cancer – suggests lower-income patients are not receiving equitable care. Lower-income individuals may not be screened for cancer, have symptoms recognized early or receive the most effective treatment.
For colorectal cancer, the probability of being alive five years after being diagnosed is 65 per cent for patients in the top income ranges compared to 59 per cent for patients in the lowest income range. For breast cancer, almost 88 per cent of patients in the highest income range would have survived for at least five years after their diagnosis, compared to nearly 83 per cent for the lowest income range.
For lung cancer, there was a relative change of nearly 18 per cent in survival between higher- and lower-income patients.
Further study is required to understand barriers to lower-income individuals being screened for cancer and whether symptoms are being recognized early enough to provide the most effective treatment. To help drive screening participation, the Partnership has established a Screening in Underserved Populations to Expand Reach (SUPER) initiative that will explore opportunities to engage immigrants, low income or rural and remote residents in breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening.
Previous Canadian and international research has shown that lower-income populations are:
The survival by income findings are part of the CONCORD-2 study, the most comprehensive study to date on international comparisons of population-based cancer survival. The Partnership funded the Canadian survival by income portion of the study.
The 2016 Cancer System Performance Report also shows:
"In a country with universal access to timely, high-quality healthcare, this is surprising. We need greater understanding of what's causing these differences so that they can be systematically addressed," said Dr. Heather Bryant, Vice President of Cancer Control at the Partnership.
"Hard to reach communities are just that – they're hard to reach. That means we need to work harder to understand and overcome the barriers that are preventing low-income patients from receiving equitable cancer care," said Dr. Kathleen Decker, Epidemiologist at Cancer Care Manitoba and Chair of the Pan-Canadian Cervical Cancer Screening Network.
About the Canadian Partnership Against CancerThe Canadian Partnership Against Cancer works with Canada's cancer community to reduce the burden of cancer on Canadians. Grounded in and informed by the experiences of those affected by cancer, the organization works with partners to support multi-jurisdictional uptake of evidence that will help to optimize cancer control planning and drive improvements in quality of practice across Canada. Through sustained effort and a focus on the cancer continuum, the organization supports the work of the collective cancer community in achieving long-term population outcomes: reduced incidence of cancer, less likelihood of Canadians dying from cancer, and an enhanced quality of life of those affected by cancer.
SOURCE Canadian Partnership Against Cancer
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