Is mortality after childhood cancer dependent on social or economic resources of parents? A population-based study

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International Journal of Cancer online first, 2011


Diagnostic and treatment protocols for childhood cancer are generally standardized, and therefore, survival ought to be fairly equal across social strata in societies with free public health care readily available. Nevertheless, our study explores whether there are disparities in mortality after childhood cancer in Norway depending on socioeconomic status of parents. Limited knowledge on differentials exists from earlier analyses. Discrete-time hazard regression models for all-cause mortality for the first 10 years after diagnosis were estimated for all Norwegian children (younger than 20 years), who were diagnosed with cancer during 1974–2007 (N = 6,280), using data from five national registers. Mortality was reduced by about 15% for children with highly educated mothers and children without siblings. These effects were most pronounced for cancers predicted to encompass intense, long-lasting treatments resulting in chronic health problems. Neither earnings nor the marital status of parents affected children's survival. This large, registry-based study suggests that time constraints and various noneconomic rewards of parents from their education appears to have an impact on childhood cancer survival. It may be that children with resourceful parents are healthier at the outset and/or are more likely to avoid later health problems. It may also be that children of well-informed and strongly involved parents are offered better treatment or are able to make better use of what is offered, for instance, by adhering more closely to recommendations for follow-up treatment. The possibility of such differentials in offered and actual treatment should be addressed in future research.

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By Astri Syse, Torkild Hovde Lyngstad, and Øystein Kravdal
Published Feb. 15, 2012 3:30 PM - Last modified Feb. 15, 2012 3:34 PM