A new research by Bar Ilan University underlined the connection between socioeconomic status (SES) and the survival rate of cancer patients.
The research, published in Yediot Aharonot, showed that the survival rate for head and neck cancer patients who live in low SES areas is significantly lower than the survival rate for head and neck cancer patients who have a higher SES.
There are 850,000 cases worldwide of these cancers annually, along with 450,000 deaths.
Researchers analyzed data from approximately 12,000 people over the course of 18 years. One key finding was that where a patient lived had a critical influence on how long he was expected to survive. Level 3 patients who were higher SES had a median life expectancy 1.5 years longer than lower SES patients.
The five-year life expectancy for high SES patients was 85%, compared to 71% for low SES patients. Residents of central Israel had a 65% chance of living five years, while residents of the periphery had just a 52% chance.
The researchers estimate that the gap is mostly due to significant differences in the level and availability of public health services in various areas of the country. In addition, the financial situation of many of the patients does not allow them access to private medicine when they need it.
The researchers also noted that increased awareness impacts screening and early diagnosis, which raise the chances of survival.
Yediot Aharonot quoted Dr. Ohad Ronen, Director of the Head and Neck Surgery Unit at the Galilee Medical Center, who led the study, as saying: "We encourage decision makers to invest resources, improve medical infrastructure, and incentivize doctors in weak socioeconomic areas. In addition, we should aim to make medical information more available to patients in these areas."
"All of Israel's residents, from the Galilee to the Negev....are worthy of advanced medical services. I hope that this research will enlighten the decision makers and that they will act to advance good heatlhcare in all areas of the country.