Socioeconomic status shown to be a factor in early diagnosis of thyroid cancer

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Thyroid cancer among people with lower socioeconomic status is diagnosed at a more advanced stage, according to new data presented by Dr. Stan Van Uum, an endocrinologist at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, at the 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association (ATA) in Qu├ębec City.

Though previous studies have suggested a higher rate of thyroid cancer in patients with a higher rate of health insurance and higher socioeconomic status, whether the stage of thyroid cancer at the time of diagnosis varies with socioeconomic status has heretofore been unknown.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Van Uum undertook a study to determine the relationship between socioeconomic status and thyroid cancer stage at the time of diagnosis. Using data from Southwestern Ontario from the Canadian Thyroid Cancer Consortium, a large thyroid cancer registry, researchers analyzed 1563 patients who presented between January 1998 and December 2010 with documented thyroid cancer. They determined patients' thyroid cancer status, sex, and age at presentation, as well as their socioeconomic status based on Canadian Census of Population data for the years 1996, 2001, and 2006.

Upon analysis, researchers found that a lower average household income is associated with a more advanced stage of thyroid cancer at diagnosis. In addition, they also noted that advanced age is also associated with more advanced stage at diagnosis. Finally, using a time-trend analysis, they found that the odds of being diagnosed at a more advanced stage decline by ~4% per year, suggesting that thyroid cancer is being diagnosed earlier over time.

"Socioeconomic status is an important health indicator for a number of cancers and other diseases. These new data shed light on yet another area-the time of thyroid cancer diagnoses-in which there is a need to close to gap on this disparity," said Dr. Elizabeth Pearce, of the Boston Medical Center and Program Co-Chair of the ATA annual meeting.