Despite overall improvements in cancer survival due to earlier diagnosis and better treatment, socio-economically disadvantaged people have lower cancer survival than more advantaged people. We aimed to examine differences in cancer survival by area-level socio-economic disadvantage in Victoria, Australia and assess whether these inequalities varied by year of diagnosis, age at diagnosis, time since diagnosis and sex. Cases diagnosed with a first primary cancer in 2001-2015 were identified using the Victorian Cancer Registry and followed to the end of 2016. Five-year net survival and the excess risk of death due to a cancer diagnosis were estimated. People living in more disadvantaged areas had lower five-year survival than residents of less disadvantaged regions for 21 of 29 cancer types: head and neck, oesophagus, stomach, colorectum, anus/anal canal, liver, gallbladder/biliary tract, pancreas, lung, melanoma, connective/soft tissue, female breast, ovary, prostate, kidney, bladder, brain and central nervous system, unknown primary, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma and leukemia. The observed lower survival in more deprived regions persisted over time, except head and neck cancer, for which the gap in survival has widened. Socio-economic inequalities in survival decreased with increasing age at diagnosis for cancers of connective/soft tissue, bladder and unknown primary. For colorectal cancer, the observed survival disadvantage in lower socio-economic regions was greater for men than for women, while for brain and central nervous system tumours, it was larger for women. Cancer survival is generally lower for residents of more socio-economically disadvantaged areas. Identifying the underlying reasons for these inequalities is important and may help to identify effective interventions to increase survival for underprivileged cancer patients.
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