Background: The use of sentinel node biopsy (SNB), lymph node dissection, breast-conserving surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormonal treatment for breast cancer was evaluated in relation to socioeconomic status (SES) in the Netherlands, where access to care was assumed to be equal. Methods: Female breast cancer patients diagnosed between 1994 and 2008 were selected from the nationwide population-based Netherlands Cancer Registry (N=176 505). Socioeconomic status was assessed based on income, employment and education at postal code level. Multivariable models included age, year of diagnosis and stage. Results: Sentinal node biopsy was less often applied in high-SES patients (multivariable analyses, ≤49 years: odds ratio (OR) 0.70 (95% CI: 0.56-0.89); 50-75 years: 0.85 (0.73-0.99)). Additionally, lymph node dissection was less common in low-SES patients aged ≥76 years (OR 1.34 (0.95-1.89)). Socioeconomic status-related differences in treatment were only significant in the age group 50-75 years. High-SES women with stage T1-2 were more likely to undergo breast-conserving surgery (radiotherapy) (OR 1.15 (1.09-1.22) and OR 1.16 (1.09-1.22), respectively). Chemotherapy use among node-positive patients was higher in the high-SES group, but was not significant in multivariable analysis. Hormonal therapy was not related to SES. Conclusion: Small but significant differences were observed in the use of SNB, lymph node dissection and breast-conserving surgery according to SES in Dutch breast cancer patients despite assumed equal access to health care.

Breast cancer, population-based, socioeconomic factors, staging, The Netherlands, treatment,
British Journal of Cancer
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Aarts, M.J, Hamelinck, V.C, Bastiaannet, E, Coebergh, J.W.W, Liefers, G.-J, Voogd, A.C, … Louwman, M.W.J. (2012). Small but significant socioeconomic inequalities in axillary staging and treatment of breast cancer in the Netherlands. British Journal of Cancer, 107(1), 12–17. doi:10.1038/bjc.2012.205