BACKGROUND: Despite marked improvements in childhood leukaemia survival, 20% still die within 5 years of diagnosis. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between socioeconomic status, as assessed by paternal occupation at birth, and survival from childhood leukaemia in children, using data from the Northern Region Young Persons Malignant Disease Registry.
METHODS: All 1007 cases of leukaemia in children aged 0-14 years, diagnosed between 1968 and 2010 and registered with the Registry were studied. Paternal occupational social class at the time of the child's birth was obtained and analysed in relation to survival using Cox-proportional regression.
RESULTS: Compared with the most advantaged group (I/II), those in the middle group (IIIN/M) had a 68% increased risk of death, while those in the least advantaged group (IV/V) had 86% higher risk for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. While the survival advantage of children in class I/II was apparent from the time of diagnosis, survival for children in groups IIIN/M and IV/V were comparable until 3-4 years after diagnosis, when they began to minimally diverge.
CONCLUSION: The existence of such socioeconomic disparities cannot be attributed to accessibility to health care in the United Kingdom. Further research into the likely factors underlying these disparities is required.