The Link between Cancer and Poverty

cancer and poverty connectionPoverty has a huge impact on cancer and it contributes to an increase in cancer incidence and mortality. Overcoming the combined problem of poverty and cancer has been particularly difficult and although there are fewer deaths due to advancements in medicine, early detection and better treatment, those who are in the more deprived parts of society are not getting much of the benefits.

Based on the cancer research made by Francis Boscoe, PhD, of the New York State Cancer Registry, and his colleagues, an area’s level of poverty or wealth may affect the distribution of cancer types. According to him: “The cancers more associated with poverty have lower incidence and higher mortality, and those associated with wealth have higher incidence and lower mortality. When it comes to cancer, the poor are more likely to die of the disease while the affluent are more likely to die with the disease.”

The study also showed that certain cancers had significant association in areas with high poverty and these cancer types include Kaposi sarcoma and cancers of the liver, larynx, cervix and penis, while other cancers such as melanoma, thyroid, other non-epithelial skin, and testis are more associated in wealthier neighbourhoods.

There’s also been a British study linking poverty to breast cancer deaths in England. The study showed that women of lower socioeconomic status tend to receive their breast cancer diagnosis when the tumour is at a later stage making it more difficult to treat. Although most residents in England benefit from publicly-funded healthcare, researchers found that socioeconomically disadvantaged women delayed seeing their general practitioners regarding their possible breast cancer while women from more affluent areas are more assertive and seeks help immediately.

Not everyone is fortunate to receive cancer treatment and those in the lower socioeconomic groups have limited resources resulting to a much higher cancer incidence and death rates. A lot of money is needed for cancer treatments and since not all treatments are covered by insurance, some people resort to medical financing while those with bad credit histories turn to bad credit loans for financial assistance.

The socioeconomic status plays a big part of the link between cancer and poverty. The economically disadvantaged have a higher incidence of several cancers and lower survival rates due to a number of factors. These factors include lack of employment, education and chronic malnutrition. In addition, the lack of access to prevention/detection services, high-quality treatment and the lack of access to medical care are huge factors which hinder people in areas with high poverty rate to get the care they need.