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Breast (female), colorectal, and lung cancer survival in people with intellectual or developmental disabilities: a population-based retrospective cohort study


Objectives — Cancer is a leading cause of death among people living with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD). There is little empirical evidence documenting survival or comparing outcomes to those without IDD. This study investigated the association between IDD and cancer survival among adults with breast (female), colorectal, or lung cancer.

Methods — A population-based retrospective cohort study was conducted in Ontario, Canada, with routinely collected data. Patients with breast, colorectal, or lung cancer were included (2007‒2019). IDD status before cancer was determined using an established administrative data algorithm. The outcomes of interest included death from any cause and death from cancer. Cox proportional hazards models and competing events analyses using multivariable cause-specific hazards regression were completed. Analyses were stratified by cancer type. Interactions with age, sex, and stage at diagnosis, as well as sensitivity analyses, were completed.

Results — The final cohorts included 123,695 breast, 98,809 colorectal, and 116,232 lung cancer patients. Individuals with IDD experienced significantly worse survival than those without IDD. The adjusted hazard ratios of all-cause death were 2.74 (95% CI 2.41‒3.12), 2.42 (95% CI 2.18‒2.68), and 1.49 (95% CI 1.34‒1.66) times higher for breast, colorectal, and lung cancer patients with IDD relative to those without. These findings were consistent for cancer-specific deaths. With few exceptions, worse survival for people with IDD persisted regardless of stage at diagnosis.

Conclusion — People with IDD experienced worse cancer survival than those without IDD. Identifying and intervening on the factors and structures responsible for survival disparities is imperative.



Hansford RL, Ouellette-Kuntz H, Griffiths R, Hallet J, Decker K, Dawe DE, Kristjanson M, Cobigo V, Shooshtari S, Stirling M, Kelly C, Brownell M, Turner D, Mahar A. Can J Public Health. 2024; Feb 5 [Epub ahead of print].

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