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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Time trends in socioeconomic inequalities in cancer mortality: results from a 35 year prospective study in British men

Sheena E Ramsay13*, Richard W Morris1, Peter H Whincup2, Anna Olia Papacosta1, Lucy T Lennon1 and Sasiwarang Goya Wannamethee1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Primary Care & Population Health, UCL, London, UK

2 Division of Population Health Sciences and Education, St George’s University of London, London, UK

3 Department of Primary Care & Population Health, UCL Medical School, Royal Free Campus, Rowland Hill Street, London NW3 2PF, UK

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:474  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-474

Published: 30 June 2014

Abstract

Background

Socioeconomic inequalities in cancer mortality in Britain have been shown to be present in the 1990s and early 2000s. Little is known about on-going patterns in such inequalities in cancer mortality. We examined time trends in socioeconomic inequalities in cancer mortality in Britain between 1978 and 2013.

Methods

A socially representative cohort of 7489 British men with data on longest-held occupational social class, followed up for 35 years, in whom 1484 cancer deaths occurred.

Results

The hazard ratio for cancer mortality for manual vs. non-manual social classes remained unchanged; among men aged 50–59 years it was 1.62 (95%CI 1.17–2.24) between 1980–1990 and 1.65 (95%CI 1.14–2.40) between 1990–2000. The absolute difference (non-manual minus manual) in probability of surviving death from cancer to 70 years remained at 3% over the follow-up. The consistency of risks over time was similar for both smoking-related and non-smoking related cancer mortality.

Conclusion

Socioeconomic inequalities in cancer mortality in Britain remain unchanged over the last 35 years and need to be urgently addressed.

Keywords:
Socioeconomic inequalities; Cancer mortality; Trends