Background: Previous studies have demonstrated that socioeconomic deprivation is associated with poorer survival in patients with colorectal cancer. These differences have been attributed to more advanced disease at presentation.
Methods: A total of 2269 patients undergoing resection for colorectal cancer in hospitals in central Scotland between 1991 and 1994 were studied. Socioeconomic status was defined using the Carstairs deprivation index. The impact of deprivation on case mix, treatment and outcome was analysed.
Results: There were no significant differences in mode of presentation, extent of disease at presentation, type of resection and postoperative mortality rate among the socioeconomic groups. Following curative resection, the overall survival rate at 5 years was 47.0 per cent in deprived patients, compared with 55.4 per cent in affluent patients (P = 0.05); the cancer-specific survival rate was 62.6 per cent in the deprived and 68.1 per cent in the affluent (P = 0.05). Compared with the affluent, the adjusted hazard ratios for the deprived were 1.36 (95 per cent confidence interval (c.i.) 1.09 to 1.69) for overall mortality and 1.26 (95 per cent c.i. 0.95 to 1.67) for cancer-specific mortality. Following palliative resection, there was no difference in survival between the affluent and deprived for either overall (P = 0.27) or cancer-specific (P = 0.89) mortality.
Conclusion: These findings confirm that the cancer-specific survival rate following surgery for colorectal cancer is lower in deprived patients. Stage of disease at presentation and type of operation did not account for this difference. The excess mortality was confined to patients undergoing apparently curative resection.