Cancer can strike anyone, no matter your education or income level. But according to a new study, there may be an association between type of cancer and socioeconomic status.
The findings, published in the journal CANCER, show that certain types of cancers seem to be more common among people living in high-poverty areas, compared with those living in low-poverty areas (and vice versa). The study is based on nearly 3 million tumors that were diagnosed in people living in 16 different states and Los Angeles, between 2005 and 2009.
The researchers looked at the poverty rate of each patient’s residential census tract, and put the tumors into four groups based on the poverty rates.
When looking broadly at all the different kinds of cancer, there was barely any association between poverty level and new cancers. But when looking specifically at different cancer types, 32 of 39 types were strongly associated with poverty, whether positively or negatively.
The risk of laryngeal, cervical, penile and liver cancer, as well as Kaposi sarcoma, was higher among those in the high-poverty areas. Meanwhile, the risk of testicular, thyroid, and non-epthileial skin cancer, as well as melanoma, was higher among those in the lower-poverty areas.
In addition, socioeconomic status seems linked with incidence of cancer, as well as likelihood of dying from said cancer.
“The cancers more associated with poverty have lower incidence and higher mortality, and those associated with wealth have higher incidence and lower mortality," study researcher Francis Boscoe, Ph.D., of the New York State Cancer Registry, said in a statement. "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."