Greater Risk of Dying From Cancer

“These patients are generally diagnosed later than others, and are less likely to get state-of-the-art cancer care”, said Tim Byers from University of Colorado. “We have lots of evidence that both Hispanics and African Americans have a higher risk of dying after being diagnosed with cancer.”

Researchers examined medical records of 13,598 patients diagnosed with cancer in 1997 in seven US states. The study included 4,844 women with breast cancer, 4,332 men with prostate cancer and 4,422 patients with colorectal cancer. They were all followed up five years later.

The SES of each patient was calculated using the education and income levels of the census tract of residence from the 2000 Census. Fifteen percent were classified as having both low SES (20 percent or more of their neighborhood had households with incomes below the Federal Poverty Level) and low education status (25 percent or more of their neighbors over age 25 had less than a high school education).

The study found that patients with both low SES and low education were more likely to have died five years after diagnosis than those with high SES. The concrete figures were for breast cancer 25.7 percent versus 17.1 percent; for colorectal cancer 52.1 percent versus 49.4 percent; for prostate cancer 26.2 percent versus 18.9 percent. The study was not specific about whether the deaths were due to cancer.

Further outcomes were: Women from low-SES areas who underwent lumpectomy were less likely to have received radiation therapy after surgery than those from high-SES areas. And those with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer from low-SES areas were less likely to have received anti-estrogen therapy. Patients from low-SES areas diagnosed with regional-stage colon cancer were less likely to have received chemotherapy. Men from low-SES areas were less likely to have been treated by either prostatectomy or radiation, considered the two standard first-line therapies.; Source: University of Colorado Denver