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Stent insertion for palliation of advanced oesophageal carcinoma symptoms by level of socioeconomic disadvantage in urban New South Wales

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To the Editor: For patients with advanced oesophageal carcinoma, palliation of debilitating symptoms such as dysphagia and odynophagia is important for improving quality of life.1 Owing to the possibility of complications, it is generally recommended that stents be used as a palliative measure when expected survival is less than 3 months.2 We analysed linked records from the NSW Central Cancer Registry, the NSW Admitted Patient Data Collection, NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages death registrations data and Australian Bureau of Statistics mortality data to investigate the association between socioeconomic disadvantage and palliation of advanced (stage IV) oesophageal carcinoma symptoms by stent insertion in urban-dwelling patients in New South Wales, from July 2001 to December 2007. The study was approved by the NSW Population and Health Services Research Ethics Committee.

Of the 479 patients who were diagnosed with primary advanced oesophageal carcinoma before death and for whom linked hospital records were available, 28.4% (136 patients) received stents. The proportion who received stents decreased with increasing disadvantage (P = 0.006 for association; P < 0.001 for…