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Front Oncol. 2018 Oct 31;8:485. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2018.00485. eCollection 2018.

Survival After Childhood Cancer-Social Inequalities in High-Income Countries.

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Unit of Epidemiology, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Section of Environment and Radiation, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Lyon, France.
Childhood Cancer Research Group, Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Childhood Cancer Research Unit, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


Despite substantial improvements in survival from childhood cancer during the last decades, there are indications that survival rates for several cancer types are no longer improving. Moreover, evidence accumulates suggesting that socioeconomic and sociodemographic factors may have an impact on survival also in high-income countries. The aim of this review is to summarize the findings from studies on social factors and survival in childhood cancer. Several types of cancer and social factors are included in order to shed light on potential mechanisms and identify particularly affected groups. A literature search conducted in PubMed identified 333 articles published from December 2012 until June 2018, of which 24 fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The findings are diverse; some studies found no associations but several indicated a social gradient with higher mortality among children from families of lower socioeconomic status (SES). There were no clear suggestions of particularly vulnerable subgroups, but hematological malignancies were most commonly investigated. A wide range of social factors have been examined and seem to be of different importance and varying between studies. However, potential underlying mechanisms linking a specific social factor to childhood cancer survival was seldom described. This review provides some support for a relationship between lower parental SES and worse survival after childhood cancer, which is a finding that needs further attention. Studies investigating predefined hypotheses involving specific social factors within homogenous cancer types are lacking and would increase the understanding of mechanisms involved, and allow targeted interventions to reduce health inequalities.


childhood neoplasms; leukemia; nervous system neoplasms; review; socioeconomic factors; survival

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