Background: After a systematic mass mammography breast cancer screening programme was implemented between 1991 and 1996 (attendance 80%), we evaluated its impact on survival according to socioeconomic status (SES). Methods: We studied survival rates up to 1-1-2005 for all consecutive breast cancer patients aged 50-69 and diagnosed in the period 1983-2002 in the area of the Eindhoven Cancer Registry (n = 4939). Multivariate analyses were performed using Cox regression analysis. Results: The proportion of breast cancer patients with a low SES decreased from 22% in 1983-1990 to 14% in 1997-2002 when attendance was 85%. The proportion of newly diagnosed patients with stage III or IV disease in 1997-2002 was only 10% compared to 14% in 1991-1996 and 26% in 1983-1989 (P < 0.0001). Stage distribution improved for all socio-economic groups (P = 0.01). Survival was similar for all socio-economic groups in 1983-1990, but after the introduction of the screening programme women with low SES had lower age- and stage-adjusted survival rates (HR 2.0, 95%CI: 1.3-3.0). Survival was better for patients diagnosed in 1997-2002 compared to 1983-1990 for all socioeconomic strata; it was substantially better for the high SES group (HR 0.36, 0.2-0.5) compared to the lowest SES (HR 0.77, 0.6-1.1). Conclusion: Although survival improved for women from each of the socio-economic strata, related to the high participation rate of the screening programme, women from lower socio-economic strata clearly benefited less from the breast cancer screening programme. That is also related to the higher prevalence of comorbidity and possibly suboptimal treatment.

Breast cancer, Mass screening, Socio-economic status, Survival,
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Louwman, W.J, van de Poll-Franse, L.V, Fracheboud, J, Roukema, J.A, & Coebergh, J.W.W. (2007). Impact of a programme of mass mammography screening for breast cancer on socio-economic variation in survival: A population-based study. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 105(3), 369–375. doi:10.1007/s10549-006-9464-9