PATIENTS from less affluent backgrounds who suffer from a form of leukaemia have a greater chance of dying, a York study has shown.
Researchers from the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences were involved in a comprehensive study of survival rates for treatable leukaemia in the UK.
It found patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) had a greater chance of dying from their disease if they had a less affluent background than if they lived in more affluent areas, despite equal access to the same clinical care and treatment.
A spokesman said that for the 500 people diagnosed with the illness each year in the UK, the introduction of tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) drugs a decade ago had turned this once fatal cancer into a manageable condition with a near normal lifespan.
The researchers, funded by the charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, gathered detailed information from 14 hospitals in Yorkshire and Humberside on every blood cancer patient’s diagnosis, treatment and outcome.
He said: “Using a standard measure of deprivation, the researchers found statistically significant inequalities – about 95 per cent of CML patients from the most affluent groups were alive after five years, compared with only 80 per cent of those from more deprived groups.
“Approximately 40 per cent of all patients lived in less affluent areas, yet this group accounted for 60 per cent of the deaths.”
The researchers said the therapy required medication to be taken at set times each day and some patients might be dying because they were not doing this, and this could explain the difference in survival rates between social groups.
Consultant haematologist Dr Russell Patmore said the importance of daily treatment needed to be explained fully to patients with CML.
Dr Alex Smith, from the University of York, who led the research, said: “These findings highlight the importance of conducting comprehensive population-based studies to examine treatment pathways across the entire patient population, rather than solely concentrating on findings from clinical trials.”