Poorer lung cancer patients in the developed world are significantly less likely to receive treatment than richer patients, researchers from Newcastle University have found.
This inequality in treatment may contribute to the higher death rates for lung cancer in poorer patients.
In a paper published today in the journal PLoS Medicine the authors found that this disparity could not be explained by differences in national healthcare systems or the stage at which cancer is diagnosed.
The team from Newcastle University and Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health, analysed data from 46 previous studies from the UK and the US and also from Canada, Sweden, Australia, Italy, France, and New Zealand.
In their analysis, the authors found that patients with lung cancer who were from the lowest socio-economic groups were 21 per cent less likely to receive any treatment than patients from the highest socio-economic groups.
Lower socio-economic position was also linked with a lower chance of receiving surgery (32 per cent less likely) and chemotherapy (18 per cent less likely), but not radiotherapy.