Fact sheet

Cancer incidence and socioeconomic status: a brief summary

Cancer Socioeconomic status Public health Australia

Socioeconomic status is a strong predictor of many health outcomes. However, with cancer it is a far more complicated picture. 

Overall, cancer incidence shows almost no relationship with the level of socioeconomic disadvantage, and for cancers such as breast, prostate, and melanoma there are higher rates in the least disadvantaged areas than in the most disadvantaged areas. However, for total cancers and all types of cancers presented in this report, the impact in terms of potential years of life lost is far greater in the most disadvantaged areas than in the least disadvantaged areas.

The largest disparity between the most and least disadvantaged areas for both incidence and potential years of life lost is for lung cancer, which in many cases is a preventable disease. For lung cancer, the most disadvantaged quintile has an incidence rate 68% higher than the least disadvantaged quintile, and a rate of PYLL over 2.4 times greater than that in the least disadvantaged quintile.

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