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Major study links insurance status to advanced stage in multiple cancers
Date:2/17/2008

ccurred for cancer sites that are part of routine screening (e.g., breast, colorectal) or sites with symptoms present at early stages (melanoma, urinary bladder).

In contrast, the likelihood of diagnosis at more advanced stages for pancreas or ovary cancer, while higher, was not significant or only marginally significant for uninsured and Medicaid patients compared to privately insured patients. These two sites characteristically present with advanced stage at diagnosis and do not have screening tests or specific symptoms to allow doctors to diagnose them at an early stage.

The authors note that some of the patients who were coded as having Medicaid insurance were likely to have been enrolled after diagnosis, and thus their later stage at diagnosis may not reflect ability to obtain cancer screening and timely diagnosis among individuals with Medicaid coverage but instead, barriers to medical care due to lack of health insurance.

The study also found African American patients were significantly more likely to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage diagnosis for many cancers, indicating that beyond the effects of health insurance, other barriers likely exist for Black patients related to early diagnosis and prompt medical care.

"The findings of this major study are critical, not only for the 47 million Americans who have no health insurance, but also for our nation," said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., chief executive officer for the American Cancer Society. "The fact is, too many cancer patients are being diagnosed too late, when treatment is harder, more expensive, and has less chance of saving lives. We must begin to remove the barriers that stand in the way of early diagnosis and timely access to medical care if we are to give all cancer patients an equal chance in the fight."


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Contact: David Sampson
david.sampson@cancer.org
American Cancer Society
Source:Eurekalert

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