Breast Cancer

A Breast Cancer Diagnosis Without Insurance Might Mean Death

A lack of insurance is nearly a death sentence for people receiving a breast cancer diagnosis. Uninsured women are 60 percent more likely to die from the disease than those with insurance, according to a new study.
In addition, breast cancer patients without insurance were about 2.6 times more likely to have a late-stage diagnosis than cancer patients who were insured, the study, published in the journal Cancer, shows.
“Access to screening services may play a role in the association between insurance status and breast cancer stage at diagnosis and survival,” says lead author Kimberly Johnson, associate professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. “Improving access to primary care and mammography screenings in these populations may improve breast cancer outcomes.”
For the study, researchers analyzed cancer registry data from more than 50,000 women age 18 to 64 who were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and 2008. The findings also pointed to the importance of the kind of insurance patients have. Those with Medicaid were also more likely to be diagnosed in a late stage of breast cancer and have poorer survival rates than those with private insurance, although they had better diagnoses and outcomes than women with no insurance at all.
Equally frightening: The study found the dismal news isn’t limited to just the uninsured. Black, single and younger women also were less likely to survive five years after their breast cancer diagnosis.

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