Estimating the potential survival gains by eliminating socioeconomic and sex inequalities in stage at diagnosis of melanoma

M. J. Rutherford*, L. Ironmonger, N. Ormiston-Smith, G. A. Abel, D. C. Greenberg, Georgios Lyratzopoulos, P. C. Lambert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Although inequalities in cancer survival are thought to reflect inequalities in stage at diagnosis, little evidence exists about the size of potential survival gains from eliminating inequalities in stage at diagnosis. Methods: We used data on patients diagnosed with malignant melanoma in the East of England (2006–2010) to estimate the number of deaths that could be postponed by completely eliminating socioeconomic and sex differences in stage at diagnosis after fitting a flexible parametric excess mortality model. Results: Stage was a strong predictor of survival. There were pronounced socioeconomic and sex inequalities in the proportion of patients diagnosed at stages III–IV (12 and 8% for least deprived men and women and 25 and 18% for most deprived men and women, respectively). For an annual cohort of 1025 incident cases in the East of England, eliminating sex and deprivation differences in stage at diagnosis would postpone approximately 24 deaths to beyond 5 years from diagnosis. Using appropriate weighting, the equivalent estimate for England would be around 215 deaths, representing 11% of all deaths observed within 5 years from diagnosis in this population. Conclusions: Reducing socioeconomic and sex inequalities in stage at diagnosis would result in substantial reductions in deaths within 5 years of a melanoma diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S116-S123
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article is an independent research supported by different funding bodies, beyond the authors? own employing organisations. MJR was partially funded by a Cancer Research UK Postdoctoral Fellowship (CRUK_A13275). GL is supported by a Postdoctoral Fellowship award by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR PDF-2011-04-047) to end of 2014 and a Cancer Research UK Clinician Scientist Fellowship award (A18180) from January 2015. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the National Health Service (NHS), the National Institute for Health Research, the Department of Health, Cancer Research UK, or any other organisation. We thank all staff at the National Cancer Registration Service, Public Health England, Eastern Office, who helped collect and code data used in this study. We particularly acknowledge the help of Dr Clement H Brown and Dr Brian A Rous who were responsible for staging.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Cancer Research UK.


  • Avoidable deaths
  • Excess mortality models
  • Sex inequalities
  • Socioeconomic inequalities


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