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SCOR Foundation Webinar | Cancer, COVID-19 and Inequalities

Project founded by SCOR Foundation (2022-2023) – November 15, 2023

Covid19 - Cancer

On November 15, 2023, the SCOR Foundation for Science held a webinar titled “Cancer, COVID-19 and Inequalities”, with Ayse Arik and George Streftaris.

Ayse Arik is a Research Fellow at Heriot-Watt University, UK. Her recent research focuses on stochastic modelling of morbidity and mortality, pension de-risking, and Markov-type modelling for cancer mortality and relevant insurance pricing. George Streftaris is Professor of Statistics at Heriot-Watt University. His research is focused on Bayesian modelling, inference and assessment across the interface of statistics, epidemiology, actuarial mathematics and life sciences.

During the webinar, George Streftaris presented the uneven outcomes of modelling cancer risk. He discussed socioeconomic disparities in cancer risk, using data in England between 2001 and 2018. Under a Bayesian setting, which accounts for uncertainty, his modelling reveals significant regional and socioeconomic differences that are specifically relevant to lifestyle cancers, such as lung and bowel cancer. His findings further suggest that these inequalities will persist in the future.

Ayse Arik analyzed the effect of COVID-19 health disruptions on breast cancer risk. Public health measures introduced as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic have affected cancer pathways by halting screening, delaying diagnostic tests and reducing the number of patients starting treatment. She discussed how these health disruptions have affected breast cancer mortality based on a methodology that can be applied to critical illness and life insurance underwriting. Her modelling approach extends earlier approaches, by incorporating events related to cancer diagnosis, progression and undiagnosed cases. Her analysis suggests a 3–6% increase in breast cancer deaths, and a 4–6% increase in registrations of advanced breast cancer for women aged 65–89.