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Timely Cancer Diagnosis Linked to Insurance Status
Date:2/18/2008

Uninsured, those on Medicaid more likely to be diagnosed with advanced cancers, American Cancer Society reports

MONDAY, Feb. 18 (HealthDay News) -- People who either have no health insurance or rely on Medicaid are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced cancers than people who have private health insurance, researchers from the American Cancer Society report.

At a time when more than 47 million Americans have no health insurance, the new study clearly shows the effect health insurance has on the timely diagnosis of cancer.

This finding follows an earlier study from the American Cancer Society that showed uninsured patients with cancer were 60 percent more likely to die than insured cancer patients.

"Having financial barriers to health care, based on insurance status, is having a significant impact on our efforts to reduce the toll of cancer," said Elizabeth Ward, director of surveillance research in the department of epidemiology and surveillance research at the American Cancer Society.

"We could make considerable progress in reducing cancer mortality if we could ensure that financial barriers, such as lack of health insurance, did not prevent people from getting recommended cancer screening and access to health care when they have symptoms," Ward added.

The report is published in the March issue of The Lancet Oncology.

In the study, Ward's team used the National Cancer Database, which includes data from 1,430 medical facilities and information on 73 percent of cancer patients in the United States. The current study looked at patients aged 18 to 99 who were diagnosed with any of 12 cancers between 1998 and 2004.

There was a consistent relationship between insurance coverage and the stage at which cancer was diagnosed. Uninsured patients were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with advanced cancers compared with patients who were privately insured, the resear
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