Poorer Americans with anal cancer — a highly treatable disease — are more likely to die than wealthier patients, a new study finds.
Researchers analyzed 2004-2013 data from 9,550 patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the anus. Each year, 8,200 cases are diagnosed in the United States, and more than 1,000 people die of the disease.
Patients in areas with lower household incomes had worse rates of overall survival and cancer-specific survival than those in the highest income areas, according to the study published online March 12 in the journal Cancer.
Overall, patients with the lowest median household incomes had a 32 percent higher risk of early death compared to the wealthiest patients, the study found.
“Our findings reveal that U.S. residents who have anal cancer and live in areas of poverty have worse survival than those who live in more affluent areas, even after accounting for differences in age, stage and race,” study leader Dr. Daniel Becker said in a journal news release. He is an oncologist at NYU Langone Health’s Perlmutter Cancer Center in New York City.
The risk of cancer death was also higher among older patients, as well as those who were black, male or unmarried, and whose cancer was more advanced at diagnosis.
Income was not linked to the likelihood that a patient would receive radiation therapy.
Anal cancer is becoming increasingly common, the researchers noted. They suspect it relates to changing trends in sexual behavior and exposure to known risk factors such as human papilloma virus and tobacco use.
“Anal cancer is often a curable disease, and, in light of the tremendous resources available in U.S. health care, we do not believe that poverty should determine cancer outcomes. The ultimate goal is to make sure that all patients receive high quality care, regardless of their wealth or zip code,” Becker concluded.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on anal cancer.