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Independents' Day

Inequality in prostate cancer treatment revealed

By Lilian Anekwe

Prostate cancer patients in deprived areas are 26% less likely to have radiotherapy than men from the most affluent areas and 52% less likely to have radical surgery, says a study published online by the BMJ.

A large-scale study concluded the trend may be due to social factors, with experts suggesting richer and better-educated patients might have more information at their disposal and communicate with doctors more easily.

It is also thought to be partly because men from affluent backgrounds are more willing to be tested for PSA (prostate specific antigen), a blood marker linked to prostate cancer.

The new research, led by a team from Cambridge University, looked at data on 35,000 patients aged 51 and over who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1995 and 2006.

Radiotherapy was used to treat the most affluent men in 28.5% of cases compared with 21% of men from the most deprived areas.

Similarly, 8.4% of the better-off men underwent surgery compared with just 4% of the worse-off.

BMJ 22 April 2010.

Inequality in prostate cancer treatment revealed

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