Huge Study Confirms Uninsured Lag in Cancer Diagnosis

Uninsured patents or those insured by Medicaid are much more likely to be diagnosed with cancer when it is at an advanced stage cancer than are those who have private insurance, a new American Cancer Society study of 3.5 million cancer patients with 12 of the most common cancer types confirms. ACS posted a news release Monday about the study, which has been published in the March issue of The Lancet Oncology.

Many of the advanced cancers were types that could have been detected early through proper screening, says ACS. Earlier studies that explored insurance status as a factor in cancer diagnosis and care involved fewer patient groups, were conducted in specific regions of the country, or looked at specific cancer types. This is the first large-scale, national study to definitively link late-stage cancer diagnosis with insurance status across a broader range of cancers, the organization said in the release.

"The current study provides new information on insurance status and stage at diagnosis for 10 cancer sites that have not been studied previously and confirms the results for two that were previously studied (breast and colon/rectum)," co-authors Michael T. Halpern, MD, PhD, MPH, and Elizabeth Ward, PhD, of ACS Epidemiology and Surveillance Research, said in the release. The study analyzed data from 1,400 hospitals and includes about 75 percent of people in the United States with cancer.

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