Rate of cervical cancer 120% higher among poorest

Cervical cancer cells

The incidence of cervical cancer among the poorest women in the country is 120% higher than among the most affluent women.

That is just one of the statistics in a report by the National Cancer Registry, to be published today, which outlines how age, economic status, and where people live impacts on how cancer will affect them.

The report, which focuses on the patients diagnosed with cancer in 2008-12, looks at how these factors impact the risk of developing and surviving cancer as well as the stage at which it is detected and the associated health conditions.

The authors found cancer incidence is 10% higher in urban rather than rural areas. It found rates were higher for stomach, lung, colorectal, breast, and cervical cancers, and melanoma.

The incidence of lung cancer was 38% higher.

The authors found that the most deprived 20% of the population had a 10% higher incidence of cancer among men and 4% higher among women, compared to the least deprived 20% of the population. Stomach cancer was found to be 40% higher, lung cancer 60% higher, and cervical cancer 120% higher.

On the other hand, breast cancer incidence was 15% higher and melanoma 30% higher among more affluent members of the population.

Overall it was found that for all cancers combined, the most deprived among the population had a much poorer survival rate. That group were about 40% more likely to die from their cancer within five years of diagnosis than those from the least deprived group.

The study also found poorer survival of older patients for all cancer types examined.

“Overall, patients aged 75+ years at diagnosis were about four times more likely to die from their cancer than those aged 45-54 years,” state the authors.

“Differences in survival between older and younger patients were greatest for breast and prostate cancers and lymphoma, and least for stomach, colorectal and lung cancers.”

The report shows lower percentages of the oldest patients having any “tumour-directed” treatment compared with those aged 45-54. For all treatment types combined, there was a 30% lower use. For surgery it was 21% lower, for radiotherapy 22% lower, and for chemotherapy it was 72% lower.

However, use of hormonal treatment for breast and prostate cancers was higher in older patients.

Dr Harry Comber, interim director of the National Cancer Registry, said: “The findings in this report are, on the whole, not unexpected, and build on work previously done by the registry and internationally.

“Nevertheless, the patterns seen — in particular in relation to variation in cancer risk by deprivation status, variation in survival by deprivation and by age, and variation in treatment by age — do point up striking inequalities that need to be targeted for improvement,” said Dr Comber, adding that it is a “very complex area to tackle”.

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