PhD Wanda Van Hemelrijck

Research project: PhD Wanda Van Hemelrijck

Cancer inequality by migrant background: a mixed-methods study on determinants and backgrounds in Belgium

2015-2020 | university funding


This study aims to unravel differentiation in cancer incidence, survival and mortality in Belgium by migrant background using a mixed-methods explanatory sequential design. Prior evidence on the association between migrant background and cancer outcomes generally shows that first-generation non-Western migrants suffer less from cancer, but with site-specific diversity. Overall, these migrants are more prone to cancers related to infections. In contrast, they are less likely to suffer from cancers related to lifestyle. In recent decades cancer has become a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. The subsequent establishment of cancer registries in many European countries has prompted research on cancer outcomes. The Belgian data are unique as they include all cancer deaths in Belgium for the period 2001 to 2011 and incidence for the period 2004-2011, with a variety of socio-demographic variables. Belgium has among the highest all-cancer incidence in Europe and a large proportion of individuals with migrant background. This and the unique cancer risk patterning in non-natives make Belgium a relevant setting to investigate differentiation in cancer incidence, survival and mortality by migrant background quantitatively. Taking into account various cancer sites and migrant background characteristics enables a better understanding of existing (dis)advantages. A qualitative follow-up with individuals with specific migrant backgrounds helps us explain specific quantitative results.