METHODS: This was a cross-sectional population based study with data on occupational social class, educational level obtained using a detailed health and lifestyle questionnaire. A total of 10,147 men and 12,304 women aged 45-80 years living in Norfolk, United Kingdom, were recruited using general practice age-sex registers as part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC-Norfolk). Plasma levels of cholesterol and triglycerides were measured in baseline samples. Social class was classified according to three classifications: occupation, educational level, and area deprivation score according to Townsend deprivation index. Differences in lipid levels by socio-economic status indices were quantified by analysis of variance (ANOVA) and multiple linear regression after adjusting for body mass index and alcohol consumption.
RESULTS: Total cholesterol levels were associated with occupational level among men, and with educational level among women. Triglyceride levels were associated with educational level and occupational level among women, but the latter association was lost after adjustment for age and body mass index. HDL-cholesterol levels were associated with both educational level and educational level among men and women. The relationships with educational level were substantially attenuated by adjustment for age, body mass index and alcohol use, whereas the association with educational class was retained upon adjustment. LDL-cholesterol levels were not associated with social class indices among men, but a positive association was observed with educational class among women. This association was not affected by adjustment for age, body mass index and alcohol use.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this study suggest that there are sex differences in the association between socio-economic status and serum lipid levels. The variations in lipid profile with socio-economic status may be largely attributed to potentially modifiable factors such as obesity, physical activity and dietary intake.
METHODS: Data on patient costs were collected prospectively in the first year following diagnosis by using a self-administered questionnaire and telephone interviews at three time points for all four stages of colorectal cancer. The patient cost data consisted of direct out-of-pocket payments for medical-related expenses such as hospital stays, tests and treatment and for non-medical items such as travel and food associated with hospital visits. In addition, indirect cost data related to the loss of productivity of the patient and caregiver(s) was assessed. The patient's perceived level of financial difficulty and types of coping strategy were also explored.
RESULT: The total 1-year patient cost (both direct and indirect) increased with the stage of colorectal cancer: RM 6544.5 (USD 2045.1) for stage I, RM 7790.1 (USD 2434.4) for stage II, RM 8799.1 (USD 2749.7) for stage III and RM 8638.2 (USD 2699.4) for stage IV. The majority of patients perceived paying for their healthcare as somewhat difficult. The most frequently used financial coping strategy was a combination of current income and savings.
CONCLUSION: Despite the high subsidisation in public hospitals, the management of colorectal cancer imposes a substantial financial burden on patients and their families. Moreover, the majority of patients and their families perceive healthcare payments as difficult. Therefore, it is recommended that policy- and decision-makers should further consider some financial protection strategies and support for cancer treatment because cancer is a very costly and chronic disease.