What does your ZIP code say about your risk for cancer?

(CBS) - Your risk for certain cancers may depend on your ZIP code and socioeconomic status.

A new study shows people in poorer areas are more likely to suffer cancers of the liver, larynx, cervix and those associated with HPV, while people in wealthier areas are at a greater risk for skin, thyroid, testicular, breast and prostate cancer.

"Across the board, if you look at the richer and the poorer, the cancer incidents are about the same," CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning." "But for 32 of the cancers, there's a difference, with some more prevalent in the poor and others in the richer community."

Agus credited it to behavior and screening.

"In the richer communities, there's a lot more screening. They catch colon cancer earlier because they have more colonoscopies, and less in the poorer communities," Agus said.

While there are more incidences of cancer in wealthier communities with over-surveillance, those who are poor deal with cancers with higher mortality rates.

"If you look for examples in the lower socioeconomic status, the poor individuals, there [are] more cancers associated with certain viruses -- HPV, hepatitis virus -- more smoking, and those cancers classically are more aggressive in a deadly way."

Agus said it's a piece to a larger puzzle, and the study's data helps personalize prevention based on where people live and their behaviors.
While it's controversial to look at a patient's socioeconomic status, Agus said doctors should still pay attention to it, especially since more could be done in poorer communities.

"Many of these are preventable with vaccines. So we need to get the vaccine in there, for the hepatitis. We need to treat the hepatitis C, the HPV vaccination in kids. We can eliminate a lot of these cancers. So the key to cancer is prevention."


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