In this study, we compared stage at diagnosis, standardized incidence ratio (SIR) and standardized mortality ratio (SMR) of most frequent cancer diagnoses between re-settlers (Aussiedler) from the former Soviet Union and the general population in the Saarland in Germany to assess possible delays in diagnosis of cancer among this migrant group.
Lung cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, malignant melanoma of the skin and stomach cancer diagnoses among a cohort of 18,619 re-settlers living in the Saarland between 1990 and 2009 were identified by the federal state’s cancer registry. Vital status was available for the respective time-period and used to calculate SIR and SMR in comparison to the autochthonous population. Tumor stages were condensed into local and advanced stages. Odds ratios (OR) for an advanced tumor stage were modeled in dependence of re-settler-status and relevant covariates by logistic regression. Missing values were addressed in a sensitivity analysis. The influence of duration of stay in Germany on advanced stage diagnosis was analyzed among re-settlers.
SIR and SMR of lung and breast cancer were lower among female re-settlers, while SIR and SMR of colorectal and prostate cancer were lower among male re-settlers. SIR and SMR of stomach cancer were elevated among both sexes. Female re-settlers showed an elevated OR for being diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer. Both male and female re-settlers showed an elevated OR when observing all six sites combined (OR among males 1.47, p = 0.04; OR among females 1.37, p = 0.05). The result of elevated ORs was supported in the sensitivity analysis. Finally, male re-settlers showed a weak association between duration of stay in Germany and reduced risk for advanced stage diagnosis.
Re-settlers were more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced tumor stage. These findings are in line with previous research having shown unfavorable health care utilization of re-settlers. Overall, low mortality rates despite an increased risk of advanced stage at diagnosis argue for a sufficient follow-up care, comparable to the autochthonous population.