An investigation of cancer survival inequalities associated with individual-level socio-economic status, area-level deprivation, and contextual effects, in a cancer patient cohort in England and Wales

Ingleby, F. C., Woods, L. M., Atherton, I. M., Baker, M., Elliss-Brookes, L., & Belot, A. (2022) BMC Public Health, 22, [ONS LS]

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Background: People living in more deprived areas of high-income countries have lower cancer survival than those in less deprived areas. However, associations between individual-level socio-economic circumstances and cancer survival are relatively poorly understood. Moreover, few studies have addressed contextual effects, where associations between individual-level socio-economic status and cancer survival vary depending on area-based deprivation.
Methods: Using 9276 individual-level observations from a longitudinal study in England and Wales, we examined the association with cancer survival of area-level deprivation and individual-level occupation, education, and income, for colorectal, prostate and breast cancer patients aged 20–99 at diagnosis. With flexible parametric excess hazard models, we estimated excess mortality across individual-level and area-level socio-economic variables and investigated contextual effects.
Results: For colorectal cancers, we found evidence of an association between education and cancer survival in men with Excess Hazard Ratio (EHR) = 0.80, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) = 0.60;1.08 comparing “degree-level qualification and higher” to “no qualification” and EHR = 0.74 [0.56;0.97] comparing “apprenticeships and vocational qualification” to “no qualification”, adjusted on occupation and income; and between occupation and cancer survival for women with EHR = 0.77 [0.54;1.10] comparing “managerial/professional occupations” to “manual/technical,” and EHR = 0.81 [0.63;1.06] comparing “intermediate” to “manual/technical”, adjusted on education and income. For breast cancer in women, we found evidence of an association with income (EHR = 0.52 [0.29;0.95] for the highest income quintile compared to the lowest, adjusted on education and occupation), while for prostate cancer, all three individual-level socio-economic variables were associated to some extent with cancer survival. We found contextual effects of area-level deprivation on survival inequalities between occupation types for breast and prostate cancers, suggesting wider individual-level inequalities in more deprived areas compared to least deprived areas. Individual-level income inequalities for breast cancer were more evident than an area-level differential, suggesting that area-level deprivation might not be the most effective measure of inequality for this cancer. For colorectal cancer in both sexes, we found evidence suggesting area- and individual-level inequalities, but no evidence of contextual effects.
Conclusions: Findings highlight that both individual and contextual effects contribute to inequalities in cancer outcomes. These insights provide potential avenues for more effective policy and practice.

Available online: BMC Public Health,
Output from project: 1014644


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