Unable to Pay, Minority Cancer Survivors Are Declining Care

February 12, 2009

Data presented at the AACR conference showed that more than 1 million cancer survivors in the US are foregoing medical care that they feel is necessary because of costs.

According to data presented last week at the AACR conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities, more than 1 million cancer survivors in the US are foregoing medical care that they feel is necessary because of costs, with Hispanics and African Americans twice as likely as white cancer survivors to go without care.

“There are significant out-of-pocket expenses, even for those with insurance," said Kathryn Weaver, PHD, cancer prevention fellow, NCI. "These survivors are either going without, or significantly delaying, dental care, general medical care, mental health care or prescription drugs.”

After identifying 6,602 adult cancer survivors (64.3% female, 4.8% Hispanic, 6.4% non-Hispanic black, 88.8% non-Hispanic white) from the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey, Weaver and colleagues found that the overall prevalence of foregoing medical care due to cost was 7.8% for general medical care, 9.9% for prescription drugs, 11.3% for dental care, and 2.7% for mental healthcare.

Researchers found that Hispanics and African Americans were 2.14-fold and 87% more likely, respectively, to forego prescription medications than were non-Hispanic whites. Hispanics and African Americans were 2.31-fold and 57% more likely, respectively, than non-Hispanic whites to go without dental care.

“Efforts to expand insurance coverage might go some way toward addressing these problems, but absent that, clinicians need to be more aware that their patients are not getting these services and work to try to connect them to charity or low-cost care," said Weaver.

Related News:

Black Women with Uterine Cancers More Likely to Die than White Patients

Black women are 60% more likely to die from uterine tumors than white women, according to study results from investigators at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. They noted that tumor characteristic differences and care inequalities don’t completely explain the survival disparity and suggest that biological differences might play a role, as well as racial differences in obesity, medical comorbidities, and estrogen.

specialty: oncology


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