In the United States (USA), a correlation has been demonstrated between socio-economic status (SES) of patients on the one hand, and tumour histology, stage of the disease and treatment modality of various cancer types on the other hand. It is unknown whether such correlations are also involved in patients with oesophageal cancer in The Netherlands. Between 1994 and 2003, 888 oesophageal cancer patients were included in a prospective database with findings on the diagnostic work-up and treatment of oesophageal cancer. Socio-economic status of patients was defined as the average net yearly income. Linear-by-linear association testing revealed that oesophageal adenocarcinoma was more frequently observed in patients with higher SES and squamous cell carcinoma in patients with lower SES (P = 0.02). Multivariable logistic regression analysis showed no correlation between SES and staging procedures and preoperative TNM stage. The adjusted odds ratio (OR) for stent placement was 0.82 (95% CI 0.71-0.95), indicating that with an increase in SES by 1200 €, the likelihood that a stent was placed declined by 18%. Patients with a higher SES more frequently underwent resection or were treated with chemotherapy (OR: 1.15; 95% CI 1.01-1.32 and OR: 1.16; 95% CI 1.02-1.32, respectively). Socio-economic factors are involved in oesophageal cancer in The Netherlands, as patients with a higher SES are more likely to have an adenocarcinoma and patients with a lower SES a squamous cell carcinoma. Moreover, the correlations between SES and different treatment modalities suggest that both patient and doctor determinants contribute to the decision on the most optimal treatment modality in patients with oesophageal cancer.

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British Journal of Cancer
Department of Surgery

van Vliet, E.P.M, Eijkemans, M.J.C, Steyerberg, E.W, Kuipers, E.J, Tilanus, H.W, van der Gaast, A, & Siersema, P.D. (2006). The role of socio-economic status in the decision making on diagnosis and treatment of oesophageal cancer in The Netherlands. British Journal of Cancer, 95(9), 1180–1185. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6603374