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Insurance Status May Affect Cancer Outcome: Study
Date:8/8/2014

ance status of the cancer patients and their diagnosis, treatment and fate during the three-year period.

Overall, about three-fourths received treatment through surgery, radiation or both. Only 62 percent of the uninsured received those types of treatments, compared to 68 percent of those with Medicaid and 80 percent of those with other kinds of insurance.

"Patients without insurance often times are forced to wait until their symptoms are very advanced before seeing a doctor, and patients without Medicaid or private insurance typically cannot afford costly surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy," explained study co-author Dr. Usama Mahmood, an assistant professor with the department of radiation oncology at Anderson. "And there may be other social factors that hinder their ability to receive cancer care."

Dr. Karl Bilimoria, director of the Surgical Outcomes and Quality Improvement Center at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, added that waiting to see a doctor until cancer is advanced may translate to less surgery or radiation. "If the stage of disease is more advanced, these therapies may no longer be as crucial as systemic therapies such as chemotherapy," he said.

As for deaths from cancer, the researchers adjusted the statistics so they wouldn't be thrown off by factors like high or low numbers of patients who were of certain genders, ages, races and other traits. They found that those on Medicaid or without coverage were still 44 percent to 47 percent more likely to die of cancer over two years.

In the big picture, Bilimoria said, the results aren't surprising: "We have seen these results many times before." But they're still important because "it is critical to ensure that all patients are treated fairly and receive the best possible care," he said.

Under health care reform, it is much easier for many people to get insurance and some states are expanding the number of poor people who are
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