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BMC Cancer  2009 

Socioeconomic disparities in breast cancer survival: relation to stage at diagnosis, treatment and race

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2407-9-364

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Women diagnosed with breast cancer during 1998-2002 in the 13 SEER cancer registry areas were followed-up to the end of 2005. The association between an area-based measure of SES and cause-specific five-year survival was estimated using Cox regression models. Six models were used to assess the extent to which SES differences in survival were explained by clinical and demographical factors. The base model estimated the hazard ratio (HR) by SES only and then additional adjustments were made sequentially for: 1) age and year of diagnosis; 2) stage at diagnosis; 3) first course treatment; 4) race; and 5) rural/urban residence.An inverse association was found between SES and risk of dying from breast cancer (p < 0.0001). As area-level SES falls, HR rises (1.00 → 1.05 → 1.23 → 1.31) with the two lowest SES groups having statistically higher HRs. This SES differential completely disappeared after full adjustment for clinical and demographical factors (p = 0.20).Stage at diagnosis, first course treatment and race explained most of the socioeconomic disparity in breast cancer survival. Targeted interventions to increase breast cancer screening and treatment coverage in patients with lower SES could reduce much of socioeconomic disparity.Previous studies have documented substantial disparities in breast cancer survival in relation to socioeconomic status (SES) as measured either at the individual [1,2] or area levels [3-6] in the United States, with women in lower SES groups showing poorer survival. Factors that may mediate these disparities include differences in the stage at diagnosis, access to and quality of care delivered and other correlates of low SES [7]. Women with less education and those who are unemployed, reside in a poor area, or are uninsured or under-insured are more likely to be diagnosed at later stages [8-10], and are less likely to receive optimal cancer care [11,12]. Race has been reported to be related with breast cancer survival independently of SES [5,


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