Low-Income Patients Have a Higher Risk of Dying Follow Lung Cancer Surgery

Patients with low income have a higher risk of death following lung cancer surgery, according to a study published in BMJ.

In this study, researchers performed a population-based register study that included 5,500 patients who underwent surgery for lung cancer between 2008 and 2017. During a mean follow-up time of 3.2 years, 1,736 patients died.

According to the results, after adjusting for a range of factors known to increase the risk of death, including old age, smoking and common comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease, the researchers found that patients in the highest income quintile had a 23 percent lower risk of death compared with patients in the lowest income quintile.

“Contrary to our hypothesis, the analysis showed that patients with low household disposable income had significantly worse long-term survival compared with patients with high household disposable income,” says Erik Sachs, one of the study’s authors in a press release. “We don’t know what causes this association. To answer this question, studies investigating the underlying mechanisms of the association are needed.”

The researchers note that they did not have access to information on diet, physical activity and social support, factors that have previously been associated with socioeconomic status and could potentially influence life expectancy.


“It is reasonable to assume that there are a number of factors that negatively affect lung cancer survival and whose effects would be possible to modify,” says co-author Veronica Jackson, researcher at the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery at Karolinska Institutet and a cardiothoracic surgeon. “Our findings are important as they suggest that, with proper measures, it would likely be possible to improve the prognosis for patients with low household disposable income. But firstly, we have to identify which measures that are the “right” measures.”