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Home Clinical Clinical News Socioeconomic factors negatively impact cancer screening

Socioeconomic factors negatively impact cancer screening

Screening uptake in the National Cancer Screening Programme is lowest among the social groups where HPV infections are most prevalent, a new Irish study has found.
Researchers at the NUI Galway School of Health Economics, lead by Professor Ciaran O’Neill from the School of Business and Economics, conducted a cross-border comparison of breast and cervical cancer screening uptake in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, to investigate differences in uptake of cancer screening related to socioeconomic characteristics in both places.

Using multivariate analyses from SLÁN 2007 and UK data from 2005 that detailed breast and cervical cancer screening participation over a 12-month period, they found that population based screening was only fully implemented in line with European Commission (EC) recommendations in the Republic in September 2008, and that uptake of cervical cancer screening was significantly higher in Northern Ireland (30 per cent) among eligible women in comparison to the Republic (17 per cent).

While recent cross border collaboration has seen greater harmonisation of cancer control policies in Ireland (facilitated, for example, by bodies such as the Ireland Northern Ireland National Cancer Institute) past differences may “leave a legacy”, the authors wrote. Northern Ireland has greater system maturity having implemented population based screening for breast and cervical cancer in the early 1990s,” they added.

Differences in participation related to socioeconomic and education level were observed in screening programmes for cervical cancer, and were related to education for breast cancer in the Republic. Screening uptake was lower among those social groups where HPV infections are most prevalent in the Republic.

“Differences in participation across socioeconomic groups in respect of breast and cervical cancer screening in the Republic were not replicated in Northern Ireland. These differences may contribute to inequalities in treatment and outcomes across socioeconomic groups in the Republic of Ireland,” the authors concluded.

They presented their study at the recent 2nd All Ireland Conference on Population Based Cancer Research, held in Dublin by the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI).



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