Certain cancers are more concentrated in areas with high poverty, while other cancers arise more often in wealthy regions, a new analysis has suggested.
Also, areas with higher poverty had lower cancer incidence and higher mortality than areas with lower poverty. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study's findings demonstrate the importance of including measures of socioeconomic status in national cancer surveillance efforts.
Overall, socioeconomic status is not related to cancer risk—cancer strikes the rich and poor alike. However, socioeconomic status does seem to influence the type of cancer a person may develop. To look closely at the issue, Francis Boscoe, PhD, of the New York State Cancer Registry and his colleagues compared people living in areas with the highest poverty with those living in areas with the lowest poverty. The investigators assigned nearly three million tumors diagnosed between 2005 and 2009 from 16 states plus Los Angeles (an area covering 42 percent of the US population) into one of four groupings based on the poverty rate of the residential census tract at time of diagnosis.
Dr. Boscoe noted that recent gains in technology have made it much easier to link patient addresses with neighborhood characteristics, therefore making it possible to incorporate socioeconomic status into cancer surveillance. "Our hope is that our paper will illustrate the value and necessity of doing this routinely in the future," he said.