Background: Optimal treatment choice for patients with esophageal cancer (EC) is complex and largely determined by tumor characteristics, comorbidity, and age.
Goals: This study describes the role of patient characteristics, among which is socioeconomic status (SES), in EC treatment.
Study: Patients diagnosed with primary EC between 1990 and 2008 in the southern part of the Netherlands were identified using the Eindhoven Cancer Registry. Multivariable logistic and proportional hazard regression analyses were used to identify determinants of treatment and survival.
Results: We included 1914 patients, and 37% of them underwent intentionally curative treatment. Low-SES patients were diagnosed at older age (16% vs. 9%, age more than or equal to 80) and with more advanced tumor stages (13% vs. 10%, stage T4) than high-SES patients. Age less than 60 compared with 70 to 79 years [adjusted odds ratio, 4.51; 95% confidence interval (CI), 2.98-6.84] and high SES compared with low SES (adjusted odds ratio 1.59; 95% CI, 1.07-2.37) were independent predictors for curative treatment. Probability of death for high-SES patients undergoing palliative treatment was decreased compared with low-SES patients (hazard ratio, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.71-0.99).
Conclusions: SES is an important factor in treatment choice of EC. As health care is equally accessible to the whole population in the Netherlands, this suggests that both patient-related and physician-related factors are involved in this phenomenon.