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Insurance Impacts Laryngeal Cancer Detection

Less or no coverage meant tumors were spotted later, study found

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Medicaid recipients and people with no health insurance are more likely than those with private insurance to be diagnosed with advanced laryngeal (voice box) cancer, a U.S. study finds.

Each year, about 10,000 men and women in the United States are diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. The stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis is an important factor in prognosis and treatment, experts note.

In the study, Emory University and American Cancer Society researchers analyzed data from more than 61,000 people diagnosed with laryngeal cancer between 1996 and 2003.

Of those cases, 32,665 had early-stage disease and 28,466 had advanced cancers. Tumor size at diagnosis was categorized as T1, T2, T3 or T4, with T4 being the largest. There were 22,693 patients (37.1 percent) with T1, 15,111 (24.7 percent) with T2, 13,541 (22.2 percent) with T3, and 9,786 (16 percent) with T4.

"Patients with advanced-stage disease or more advanced T stage were more likely to be uninsured or have Medicaid or other government-funded plans than were those with early stage disease," the study authors wrote in the August issue of Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

They also found that advanced disease and/or large tumors were more likely to be diagnosed in patients who were female, black, between ages 18 and 56, or those who lived in ZIP codes with low proportions of high school graduates or with low median household incomes. Patients treated at teaching/research facilities were also more likely to have advanced disease.

More information

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

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Aug. 20, 2007

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