Socioeconomic inequality in cancer in the Nordic countries. A systematic review

Gunn Ammitzbøll*, Anne Katrine Graudal Levinsen, Trille Kristina Kjær, Freja Ejlebæk Ebbestad, Trine Allerslev Horsbøl, Lena Saltbæk, Sara Koed Badre-Esfahani, Andrea Joensen, Eva Kjeldsted, Maja Halgren Olsen, Susanne Oksbjerg Dalton

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftReviewForskningpeer review


BACKGROUND: Despite structural and cultural similarities across the Nordic countries, differences in cancer survival remain. With a focus on similarities and differences between the Nordic countries, we investigated the association between socioeconomic position (SEP) and stage at diagnosis, anticancer treatment and cancer survival to describe patterns, explore underlying mechanisms and identify knowledge gaps in the Nordic countries.

METHODS: We conducted a systematic review of population based observational studies. A systematic search in PubMed, EMBASE and Medline up till May 2021 was performed, and titles, abstracts and full texts were screened for eligibility by two investigators independently. We extracted estimates of the association between SEP defined as education or income and cancer stage at diagnosis, received anticancer treatment or survival for adult patients with cancer in the Nordic countries. Further, we extracted information on study characteristics, confounding variables, cancer type and results in the available measurements with corresponding confidence intervals (CI) and/or p-values. Results were synthesized in forest plots.

RESULTS: From the systematic literature search, we retrieved 3629 studies, which were screened for eligibility, and could include 98 studies for data extraction. Results showed a clear pattern across the Nordic countries of socioeconomic inequality in terms of advanced stage at diagnosis, less favorable treatment and lower cause-specific and overall survival among people with lower SEP, regardless of whether SEP was measured as education or income.

CONCLUSION: Despite gaps in the literature, the consistency in results across cancer types, countries and cancer outcomes shows a clear pattern of systematic socioeconomic inequality in cancer stage, treatment and survival in the Nordic countries. Stage and anticancer treatment explain some, but not all of the observed inequality in overall and cause-specific survival. The need for further studies describing this association may therefore be limited, warranting next step research into interventions to reduce inequality in cancer outcomes.

STUDY REGISTRATION: Prospero protocol no: CRD42020166296.

Sider (fra-til)1317-1331
Antal sider15
TidsskriftActa Oncologica
Udgave nummer11
Tidlig onlinedato11 nov. 2022
StatusUdgivet - nov. 2022


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