In a large population-based series of invasive breast cancer patients, we investigated socioeconomic background (SEB) in relation to (a) stage at diagnosis; (b) treatment pattern; and (c) 5-year survival. Women diagnosed during 1998-2000 and resident in the Northern and Yorkshire regions of England were identified from the cancer registry database (N=12,768). Logistic regression and Cox proportional hazards analyses were used to estimate associations between SEB (defined using the Townsend Index for area of residence) and tumour stage, treatment pattern, and survival. Living in a more deprived area was associated with increased likelihood of being diagnosed with stage III or IV disease (age-adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.13; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08-1.18 per quartile increase in Townsend score), and, after adjustment for age and stage, reduced odds of having surgery (OR 0.85; 95% CI 0.80-0.91), and receiving radiotherapy (OR 0.91; 95% CI 0.88-0.94). Amongst patients receiving surgery, those living in more deprived areas had decreased odds of having breast conserving surgery (age plus stage-adjusted OR 0.92; 95% CI 0.89-0.95). Living in a more deprived area was also associated with increased mortality (age- plus stage-adjusted hazard ratio 1.08; 95% CI 1.05-1.11). These effects may operate through several pathways, such as later presentation leading to advanced disease.