The objective of this study was to examine differences in cancer survival between socioeconomic groups in England, with particular attention to survival in the short term of follow-up.
PATIENTS AND METHODS:
Individuals diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 1996 and 2004 in England were identified from cancer registry records. Five-year cumulative relative survival and excess death rates were computed.
For colon cancer there was a very high excess death rate in the first month of follow-up, and the excess death rate was highest in the socioeconomically deprived groups. In subsequent periods, excess mortality rates were much lower and there was less socioeconomic variation. The pattern of variation in excess death rates was generally similar in rectal cancer but the socioeconomic difference in death rates persisted several years longer. If the excess death rates in the entire colorectal cancer patient population were the same as those observed in the most affluent socioeconomic quintile, the annual reduction would be 360 deaths in colon cancer and 336 deaths in rectal cancer patients. These deaths occurred almost entirely in the first month and the first year after diagnosis.
Recent developments in the national cancer control agenda have included an increasing emphasis on outcome measures, with short-term cancer survival an operational measure of variation and progress in cancer control. In providing clues to the nature of the survival differences between socioeconomic groups, the results presented here give strong support for this strategy.
2012. Vol. 48, no 1, 46-53 p.