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Cancer deaths higher among less affluent

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Poorer people in England are more likely to die from cancer compared ith those from more affluent backgrounds, a study suggests.

Researchers compared survival rates between 2004 and 2007 of patients suffering from the 14 most common cancers, basing their findings on five different economic groupings.

The King’s College London team found that more than 2,600 deaths among those from deprived backgrounds could have been prevented if survival chances were equal across socio-economic backgrounds.

The biggest discrepancy was that in the first month of diagnosis those from poorer areas were more likely to have late-stage cancer, which could be because they are less likely to go to their GP at the first sign of symptoms, or that they are not receiving a quick enough diagnosis.

The study, presented at the national cancer intelligence network (NCIN) conference, found that 490 deaths from breast cancer, 330 from lung cancer, 690 from bowel cancer and 330 from prostate cancer could be avoided if health inequalities on wealth grounds were eliminated.

NCIN head Chris Carrigan said: “We need to take a close look at factors like late diagnosis, uptake of screening and variations in treatment for people from different social and economic backgrounds if we are to reduce inequality in cancer survival.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Hi, this has been well known for decades and as it only follows a period of 4 years up to 2007, we will not see any rewards on the health inititatives put in place by the last Government on cancer survival for many more years to come, (if we see them at all)! Sadly, with the present dire economic climate, the price of healthy food going up, the cuts to the health service, and rising unemployment together with cutting benefits for sick people, we will see a backward step for people from the lower socioeconomic backgrounds and cancer survival may even get worse with the coalition. It is cheaper to buy high sugar, high fat foods from Iceland and Poundland than fruit, veg and lean meat. I am very cynical that any of the improving outcomes will be achieved. Likewise, GP diagnosis was shown to be variable and they are the people who are meant to be in charge of planning services in the future!!!!!!!
    I suspect that access to diagnostics will get worse, drugs will not be provided for some patients and the postcode lottery will persist. Education is being bashed too so any health education for our children is likely to fall by the wayside as well, as the need to pretend that exam results mean progress will negate the provision of 'non-core' curriculum subjects such as health promotion and sports. Access to higher education to potentially lift people out of poorer backgrounds will also impact on the health of the nation.

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