OBJECTIVES: Despite the fact that socioeconomic status (SES) has been shown to have important implications in health related issues, population-based cancer registries in the United States do not routinely collect SES information. This study presents a model to estimate the SES of cancer patients in the registry database. METHODS: At the Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program (CSP), we developed a model to estimate each cancer patient's SES from aggregate measurements of the census tract of residence (n = 1,640) at time of diagnosis. We then applied the SES estimates to observe the relationship between SES and risk of cancers of the female breast and reproductive organs including cancers of the ovary, cervix uteri, and corpus uteri. The analyses were performed on the cumulative records (n = 127,819) of cancer patients diagnosed between 1972 and 1992 in Los Angeles County, California, for the mutually exclusive racial/ethnic groups of non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanic Whites, Blacks, Asians, and persons of other ethnic groups. RESULTS: We found SES is positively associated with female breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and cancer of the corpus uteri, but inversely associated with cervical cancer. These SES trends were quite consistent across age groups among non-Hispanic White women. Variations by race/ethnicity in the SES patterns were also found, with Asians exhibiting little association. CONCLUSIONS: Our model of measuring SES is sufficiently sensitive to capture the trends. Adopting the aggregate approach to measure SES in population-based registry data appears to be useful
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