Objective: Late stage cancer at diagnosis increases the likelihood of cancer death. We evaluated the relation of county-level poverty with late stage cancer for 18 anatomic sites using data from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.
Methods: Stratified analysis and logistic regression were applied to 2 million incident cancers (1997-2000) from 32 states representing 57% of the United States.
Results: For 12 sites, higher county poverty significantly increased the odds of late stage, [adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval) comparing highest to lowest county poverty: larynx 2.4 (1.8-3.2), oral cavity 2.2 (1.8-2.7), melanoma 2.0 (1.5-2.8), female breast 1.9 (1.7-2.2), prostate 1.7 (1.5-1.9), corpus uteri 1.6 (1.3-1.9), cervix 1.6 (1.3-2.1), bladder 1.6 (1.2-2.1), colorectum 1.4 (1.3-1.5), esophagus 1.3 (1.1-1.7), stomach 1.3 (1.1-1.5), and kidney 1.3 (1.1-1.5)]. With some exceptions, county poverty associations with stage were comparable across gender and race, but stronger among metropolitan cases. A few differences by age may reflect screening patterns.
Conclusions: In this large population-based study, higher county poverty independently predicted distant stage cancer. This held for several non-screenable cancers, suggesting improved area economic deprivation, including access to and utilization of good medical care might facilitate earlier diagnosis and longer survival even for cancers without practical screening approaches.