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Poorer Patients Have Poorer Survival After Cancer Diagnosis
Date:6/23/2008

Less affluent individuals had more advanced disease and were less likely to receive needed treatment

MONDAY, June 23 (HealthDay News) -- Low socioeconomic status increases a cancer patient's risk of dying, say U.S. researchers who analyzed data on almost 14,000 breast, prostate and colorectal patients in seven states.

The study found that cancer patients with low socioeconomic status had more advanced cancers at time of diagnosis, received less aggressive treatment, and had a higher risk of dying within five years of diagnosis.

For example:

  • Poorer women were less likely to receive radiation treatment after a lumpectomy or to receive anti-estrogen therapy when diagnosed with an estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) tumor.
  • Prostate cancer patients who lived in less affluent areas were less likely to have a prostatectomy or receive radiation treatment than men who lived in areas of high socioeconomic status.
  • Colorectal cancer patients of low socioeconomic status were less likely to receive chemotherapy.

While blacks and Hispanic patients were more likely than whites to live in poorer areas, but the link between increased risk of cancer death and low socioeconomic status applied to all racial and ethnic groups.

However, this was not true for patients 65 and older, perhaps because they have more universal access to cancer screening and treatment via Medicare, regardless of socioeconomic status, the researchers said.

"These findings support the need to focus on socioeconomic status as an important underlying factor in cancer disparities by race and ethnicity," wrote Dr. Tim Byers, of the University of Colorado Denver, and colleagues.

"We need better information on how access to health care contributes to differences in cancer outcomes by socioeconomic status in order to address the root causes of racial and ethnic cancer disparities in the United Sta
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