Evolution of educational inequalities in site-specific cancer mortality among Belgian men between the 1990s and 2000s using a “fundamental cause” perspective

In a newly published article in BMC Cancer, Katrien VanthommeHadewijch Vandenheede, Paulien Hagedoorn and Sylvie Gadeyne look into (trends in) educational inequalities in overall and site-specific cancer mortality in Belgian men in the 1990s and the 2000s.


Background: According to the “fundamental cause” theory, emerging knowledge on health-enhancing behaviours and technologies results in health disparities. This study aims to assess (trends in) educational inequalities in site-specific cancer mortality in Belgian men in the 1990s and the 2000s using this framework.

Methods: Data were derived from record linkage between the Belgian censuses of 1991 and 2001 and register data on mortality. The study population comprised all Belgian men aged 50–79 years during follow-up. Both absolute and relative inequality measures have been calculated.

Results: Despite an overall downward trend in cancer mortality, educational differences are observed for the majority of cancer sites in the 2000s. Generally, inequalities are largest for mortality from preventable cancers. Trends over time in inequalities are rather stable compared with the 1990s.

Conclusions: Educational differences in site-specific cancer mortality persist in the 2000s in Belgium, mainly for cancers related to behavioural change and medical interventions. Policy efforts focussing on behavioural change and healthcare utilization remain crucial in order to tackle these increasing inequalities.


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