Prostate Cancer and Socioeconomic Status in the Finnish Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer

Am J Epidemiol. 2016 Nov 15;184(10):720-731. doi: 10.1093/aje/kww084.


Prostate cancer (PC) screening remains controversial. We investigated whether screening reduces the difference in prostate cancer risk by socioeconomic status (SES). In 1996-2011, a total of 72,139 men from the Finnish Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer were analyzed. Outcome measures were PC incidence, mortality, and participation in screening. SES indicators were educational level, income, and home ownership status (data obtained from the Statistics Finland registry). The mean duration of follow-up was 12.7 years. Higher SES was associated with a higher incidence of low- to moderate-risk PC but with a lower risk of advanced PC. Higher education was associated with significantly lower PC mortality in both control and screening arms (risk ratio = 0.48-0.69; P < 0.05). Higher income was also associated with lower PC mortality but only in the control arm (risk ratio = 0.45-0.73; P < 0.05). There were no significant differences in SES gradient by arm (Pinteraction = 0.33 and Pinteraction = 0.47 for primary vs. secondary education and primary vs. tertiary education, respectively; Pinteraction = 0.65 and Pinteraction = 0.09 for low vs. intermediate income and low vs. high income, respectively; and Pinteraction = 0.27 among home ownership status strata). Substantial gradients by SES in PC incidence and mortality were observed in the control arm. Higher SES was associated with overdiagnosis of low-risk PC and, conversely, lower risk of incurable PC and lower PC mortality. Special attention should be directed toward recruiting men with low SES to participate in population-based cancer screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / economics
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data
  • Medical Overuse
  • Odds Ratio
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Social Class*
  • Socioeconomic Factors