In Europe, 32% of cancer deaths in men and 16% in women are linked to socio-economic inequalities, particularly low levels of education and income. In fact, the least educated and poorest people adopt incorrect lifestyles, carry out screenings infrequently, do not have access to health systems and too often arrive at the diagnosis of cancer in an already advanced stage. However, these disparities are less evident in countries that have universal healthcare systems like ours, capable of guaranteeing treatment for everyone. The picture was drawn by the Italian Association of Medical Oncology (Aiom) during the conference ‘Close the Care Gap’, an event organized in Rome on the eve of World Cancer Day, which is celebrated tomorrow precisely to raise citizens’ awareness of the differences in access to care.
“Around the planet, every year, there are an estimated 18 million new cases of cancer and almost 10 million deaths”, says Saverio Cinieri, president of Aiom. And the risk of dying from cancer increases progressively as socioeconomic status decreases. “The neoplasms that are most affected by the social gradient – he points out – are those of the lung, stomach and uterine cervix. The more we understand the biological processes, risk factors and health determinants that favor the onset of tumors, the more effective prevention becomes , diagnosis and treatment. The main risk factors must be tackled, taking into account all the determinants of health, including education and socio-economic status. A 360-degree vision is needed – underlines Cinieri – which also includes the conditions of discomfort of citizens , to leave no one behind”.
And if, in general, around a third of cancer deaths in men in Europe are associated with socio-economic inequalities, almost half of it is reached in Eastern Europe. And for women, this proportion rises from one in six to one in four in Eastern Europe.
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