A new study has indicated that patients of low socio-economic status are more likely to die after their cancer diagnosis.
The research led by Tim Byers, M.D. of the University of Colorado Denver found that cancer patients with low socio-economic status (SES) have more advanced cancers at diagnosis, receive less aggressive treatment, and have a higher risk of dying in the five years following cancer diagnosis.
Byers and colleagues from seven states conducted the Breast, Colon, and Prostate Cancer Data Quality and Patterns of Care (POC) Study, where they looked at the medical record sources for 13,598 cancer cases diagnosed in seven states in 1997, including 4,844 women with breast cancer, 4,332 men with prostate cancer, and 4,422 men and women with colorectal cancer.
They also determined the socioeconomic status of the neighborhood of each patient by using the neighborhood-specific income and education data from the 2000 U.S. census.
They found that for all three types of cancers, individuals of low socioeconomic status had more advanced stages of cancer and received less aggressive treatment.
Moreover, patients who lived in low SES neighbourhoods were more likely to die in the five years following the diagnosis than patients in higher SES neighbourhoods.
The investigators said that the low SES factor was apparent for all racial and ethnic groups.
"These findings support the need to focus on socioeconomic status as an important underlying factor in cancer disparities by race and ethnicity," said the authors.
"We need better information on how access to health care contributes to differences in cancer outcomes by socio-economic status in order to address the root causes of racial and ethnic cancer disparities in the United States," they added.
The study will appear in the August 1, 2008 issue of Cancer.