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Insurance, Race and Poverty Affect Cancer Care, Researchers Report
Date:10/4/2010

d that late-stage diagnosis of colon cancer was more common for residents of poor communities than for folks living in richer neighborhoods. The finding could explain higher death rates from colon cancer in disadvantaged areas, the researchers said.

By analyzing 6,934 cases of colorectal cancer included in a national study, the researchers found people in the poorest areas had a 13 percent greater incidence of colorectal cancer and 15 percent higher incidence of advanced colorectal cancer, compared with people in better-off areas. This held true even after taking into account education and other factors.

"We need to understand more about the health care utilization patterns of patients in poorer neighborhoods and obstacles to colorectal cancer screening in those neighborhoods," Doubeni said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research.

In a third report, a team led by Heather J. Hoffman, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, found that race played a larger role than insurance in getting a timely breast cancer diagnosis.

In a study of almost 1,000 women examined for breast cancer, white women with private insurance waited an average of 15.9 days between testing and diagnosis, while privately insured black women waited 27.1 days and Hispanics 51.4 days, the researchers found.

For women on Medicare or Medicaid, the wait between testing and diagnosis was 11.9 days for whites, 39.4 days for blacks and 70.8 days for Hispanics.

Amongst those without insurance, the wait was 44.5 days for whites compared with 59.7 days for blacks and 66.5 days for Hispanics.

The results surprised the research team. "We thought having health insurance would even the field among all women," Hoffman said in the AACR news release. "Insured women should have had the same rapid evaluation regardless of race and ethnicity."

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