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Delays in Lung Cancer Care More Common in Public Hospitals

Age, race, insurance also influence timing between diagnosis and therapy, study finds

MONDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- The length of time a patient has to wait between lung cancer diagnosis and treatment is influenced by a number of health-care system factors, a new U.S. study finds.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center analyzed data on 482 patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer.

They found that factors such as type of hospital (private or public), insurance coverage, age and race have a major impact on the time it takes for a patient diagnosed with lung cancer to receive treatment.

For example, 59 percent of patients treated at a public hospital had advanced (stage 3) lung cancer, compared with 37 percent of patients treated at a private hospital. The researchers also found significant differences in patient populations at public and private hospitals in terms of age, race and socioeconomic status.

"This study demonstrates that in a contemporary U.S. health-care system, intervals among suspicion, diagnosis and treatment vary widely and are predominately associated with system variables such as insurance and hospital type," said study author Dr. David E. Gerber. "An organized and timely approach to subsequent diagnostic and therapeutic measures may benefit these individuals and reduce this health-care disparity."

The study appears in the November issue of the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about lung cancer.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, news release, Nov. 1, 2009

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