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Socioeconomic Status Linked to Post-Cancer Mortality

In another study, community advocacy may help improve stage at breast cancer diagnosis

THURSDAY, June 26 (HealthDay News) -- Low socioeconomic status appears to influence mortality after cancer diagnosis, but community health advocates and patient assistants may help improve the stage of breast cancer diagnosis among a largely underinsured or uninsured population, according to two studies published online June 25 in Cancer.

In the first study, Tim E. Byers, M.D., of the Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora, and colleagues analyzed data from a collaborative study involving seven state cancer registries to determine five-year all-cause mortality rates in more than 13,000 subjects diagnosed with breast, prostate and colorectal cancer in 1997. The risk for mortality associated with low socioeconomic status was elevated for breast and prostate cancer after adjustment for age, though further adjustment for other factors lessened the association. The association between socioeconomic status and mortality was lower for colorectal cancer.

In the other study, Sheryl G.A. Gabram, M.D., of the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, analyzed data from women with breast cancer who were diagnosed or treated from 2001 through 2004 at a hospital breast center. In 2001, a program began training community health advocates to promote breast cancer screening, particularly to minority and medically underserved women. Patient navigators were also trained to help diagnosed women negotiate the treatment process. Between 2001 and 2004, the proportion of stage 0 breast cancers rose from 12.4 percent to 25.8 percent, and stage IV invasive breast cancers fell from 16.8 percent to 9.4 percent.

"Although there has been an apparent increase in early-stage detection rates coupled with a decrease in stage IV detection rates, a priority after diagnosis in our patient navigator program is to continue to work with patients to accept treatment recommendations as discussed and reviewed in our weekly patient quality care review conference," Gabram's team writes.

The programs described in the second study were supported by an AVON Foundation Grant.

Abstract - Byers
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Abstract - Gabram
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