Socio-economic differences in incidence rates of cancers of the male genital organs in Finland, 1971–95


  • Eero Pukkala,

    1. Finnish Cancer Registry, Institute for Statistical and Epidemiological Cancer Research, Helsinki, Finland
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  • Elisabete Weiderpass

    Corresponding author
    1. International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France
    2. Department of Medical Epidemiology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
    • International Agency for Research on Cancer, 150, Cours Albert Thomas, F-69372 Lyon Cédex 08, France
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We studied social class variation in the incidence of cancers of the prostate, testis, penis and scrotum among 1.1 million Finnish men (45–69 years of age) during 1971–95. The incidence of prostate cancer (6,972 cases) was increasing during the study period; the highest at all the times occurred in Social Class I (highest social class), 40–50% higher than in Social Class IV (lowest). The social class gradient was strongest in localized disease but there was some variation in incidence of non-localized prostate cancer. A total of 174 testicular cancer cases were diagnosed during the study period. In the early 1970s, the incidence of testicular cancer in Social Class I was 5-fold compared to Social Classes III and IV. Thereafter, the incidence rate decreased in Social Class I, but increased in the lower classes. The positive social class gradient was similar for seminomas and non-seminomas. For penile cancer (n = 128), the incidence decreased over time and social class variation was small. Only 6 cases of scrotum cancer were observed. In testicular cancer the strong positive social class association in the early 1970s is disappearing along with converging incidence trend slopes in different social classes. The difference diminished to less than 2-fold in the 1990s. Reasons for this observation remain open. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.