Socioeconomic gradients in stage and grade of breast cancer at diagnosis

Women living in deprived areas of the United Kingdom tend to have more advanced breast cancer at diagnosis than those living in affluent areas, finds new research on bmj.com.

Researchers analysed data on stage and grade of cancer at diagnosis for nearly 23,000 women with breast cancer in the Northern and Yorkshire region of England. Socioeconomic position was calculated using a recognised scoring method.

They found strong socioeconomic trends in the likelihood of breast cancer being diagnosed at high grade or advanced stage. Women living in more materially deprived areas tended to have more advanced disease at diagnosis than those living in less deprived areas.

These trends were stronger in women potentially exposed to the national breast cancer screening programme. This suggests that the programme may have led to social and economic inequalities in disease progression at diagnosis, say the authors.

Further consideration of the possible impact of interventions on socioeconomic inequalities in health is needed, they conclude.

www.bma.org.uk

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