Widening area‑based socioeconomic inequalities in cancer mortality in Germany between 2003 and 2019
Cancer mortality has declined in recent decades, but—due to a lack of national individual-level data—it remains unclear whether this applies equally to all socioeconomic groups in Germany. Using an area-based approach, this study investigated socioeconomic inequalities in cancer mortality and their secular trends on a German nationwide scale for the first time. Official cause-of-death data from 2003 to 2019 were linked to the district-level German Index of Socioeconomic Deprivation. Age-standardised mortality rates for all cancers combined and the most common site-specific cancers were calculated according to the level of regional socioeconomic deprivation. To quantify the extent of area-based socioeconomic inequalities in cancer mortality, absolute (SII) and relative (RII) indices of inequality were estimated using multilevel Poisson models. On average, cancer mortality was 50% (women) and 80% (men) higher in Germany’s most deprived than least deprived districts (absolute difference: 84 deaths per 100,000 in women and 185 deaths per 100,000 in men). As declines in cancer mortality were larger in less deprived districts, the socioeconomic gap in cancer mortality widened over time. This trend was observed for various common cancers. Exceptions were cancers of the lung in women and of the pancreas in both sexes, for which mortality rates increased over time, especially in highly deprived districts. Our study provides first evidence on increasing socioeconomic inequalities in cancer mortality on a nationwide scale for Germany. Area-based linkage allows to examine socioeconomic inequalities in cancer mortality across Germany and identify regions with high needs for cancer prevention and control.
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