Blog | Tuesday, May 27, 2014

QD: News Every Day--The poor die from cancer; the rich, with it


Certain cancers are more concentrated in areas with high poverty, while other cancers arise more often in wealthy regions, according to a study that also concluded poorer areas had lower cancer incidence but higher mortality than wealthier ones.

Results appeared in CANCER.

Socioeconomic status may influence the type of cancer a person may develop, so researchers assigned nearly 3 million tumors diagnosed between 2005 and 2009 from 16 states plus Los Angeles, an area covering 42% of the U.S. population, into 1 of 4 groupings based on the poverty rate of the residential census tract at time of diagnosis. All cases were geocoded by the registries and 2000 census tracts. A poverty level was assigned to each case based on the percentage of individuals living below the poverty level: less than 5%, 5% to less than 10%, 10% to less than 20%, and 20% or more.

For all cancer types combined, there was a negligible association between cancer incidence and poverty. However, of 39 cancer types, 14 were positively associated with poverty and 18 were negatively associated.

Kaposi sarcoma and cancers of the larynx, cervix, penis, and liver were more likely in the poorest neighborhoods. Melanoma and cancers of the thyroid, other non-epithelial skin, and testis were more likely in the wealthiest neighborhoods.

Cancers more associated with poverty have lower incidence and higher mortality, and those associated with wealth have higher incidence and lower mortality, researchers said.

New technology makes it easier to link patient addresses with neighborhood characteristics, therefore making it possible to incorporate socioeconomic status into cancer surveillance, and this study shows the importance of including measures of socioeconomic status in national cancer surveillance efforts, researchers wrote.