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Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2010 Jan;48(1):11-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bjoms.2009.03.020. Epub 2009 May 28.

Components of socioeconomic risk associated with head and neck cancer: a population-based case-control study in Scotland.

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University of Glasgow, Faculty of Medicine, Dental School, Glasgow, UK.


The complex associations between socioeconomic circumstances and risk for head and neck cancer are under-explored. We investigated components of social class and their relative influence on the risk of head and neck cancers by studying 103 patients (age range 24-80 years) who had been diagnosed with cancer of the head and neck between April 2002 and December 2004, and 91 controls who were randomly selected from general practitioners' lists. Information about occupation, education, smoking, and alcohol consumption was collected at personal interview. Socioeconomic circumstances were measured at an individual level (education, occupational social class, unemployment), and by area-based measures of deprivation. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were computed using unconditional logistic regression and multivariate analyses. People living in the most deprived areas (OR=4.66, 95% CI 1.79-12.18); and those who were unemployed (OR=2.27, 95% CI 1.21-4.26) had a significantly higher risk of cancer than those with high levels of educational attainment (OR=0.17, 95% CI 0.05-0.58). Significance was lost for all measures of social class when adjustments were made for smoking and consumption of alcohol. Smoking was the only significant risk factor (OR=15.53, 95% CI 5.36-44.99) in the multivariate analysis. A high risk of head and neck cancer was consistently associated with poor socioeconomic circumstances, and there were strong links for specific components however smoking dominated the overall profile of risk. We propose a framework for future socioeconomic analyses.

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