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Cancer Survivors Say Costs Keep Them From Care
Date:2/4/2009

y, Weaver and her associates focused on the health-care-seeking behavior of 6,602 adult cancer survivors and more than 104,000 men and women with no history of cancer.

Almost 65 percent of the survivors were women, almost 5 percent were Hispanic and just over 6 percent were black. Roughly half (52 percent) were older than 65 and had access to Medicare insurance. Only people with non-melanoma skin cancer were excluded.

The pool of cancer survivors included people with relatively recent diagnoses as well as those diagnosed a decade or more ago. In fact, nearly 60 percent of the participants were more than five years out from their initial diagnosis.

Because of this, the analysis not only reflected behavior related to seeking care for cancer concerns, but also attempts to get medical attention for such issues as obtaining prescription medications and accessing dental and mental health care.

Weaver and her team found that almost 8 percent of the cancer survivors chose to go without general medical care because of its cost. For the same reason, nearly 10 percent did without needed prescriptions, more than 11 percent went without dental care, and nearly 3 percent failed to address mental health needs.

The situation appeared more dire for non-white cancer survivors. Hispanic cancer survivors, for instance, were twice as likely as their white peers to forgo prescription drugs because of cost. African-Americans were 87 percent more likely than whites to do that.

Costs drove dental care to the wayside 2.3 times more often among Hispanic cancer patients than among white patients and 57 percent more often among African-American patients.

Such racial disparities were not exclusive to cancer patients, the researchers noted, although health-care patterns were not always the same for the general population as among cancer patients.

In addition, race did not appear to play a role among cancer patients ol
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