Europa Uomo’s John Dowling examines recent evidence that men on lower incomes are more likely to have advanced prostate cancer

Across much of Europe there appears to be a strong link between a person’s economic well-being and his or her health status.  Putting it bluntly, the better off you are financially the more likely you are to live longer and in better health for the most part.

In the case of prostate cancer detection and subsequent treatment, the higher up the economic tree the more likely a man is to get diagnosed earlier and as a result avoid presenting to doctors in a metastatic condition.

A recent article in Renal and Urology News reveals that when men on lower incomes present with prostate cancer they are at higher risk of having advanced or aggressive disease. They are also less likely to undergo surgery or radiation for localised prostate cancer. In countries where low income men have difficulties in accessing quality health care, this may be because they may live far from the health facility and don’t have a car. Or they may be unable to afford to take time off from work to attend clinics and follow-up consultations.

This is a many-sided problem and there are many studies which show that a person’s socio-economic status is linked to the quality of their early years nutrition, to their educational progression and to the kinds of lifestyle choices they are likely to make which lead on to a greater chance of poorer health outcomes.

Patient organisations, like those represented by Europa Uomo, need to keep these points in mind when developing programmes for early detection and treatment. This means we need to be mindful of the words and the type of language we use to pass on our message. We also need to ensure that our websites, newsletters and information materials are written in terms that are readily understood by all those likely to be affected.