Lack of Access to Quality Care Increases Cancer Risk

This just in: Harvard researchers have discovered that nearly 1 in 20 cancer patients die within a month of surgery…a much higher percentage of death than that cited by previous smaller studies. While advanced cancer stood out as the primary risk factor, social and economic circumstances also featured as probable causes, leading researchers to conclude that lack of access to quality care increases cancer risk.

cancer_treatment_wordsFrightening New Cancer Stats

The study, presented October 2014 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Quality Care Symposium in Boston, included 1.1 million cancer sufferers who had surgery between the years 2004 and 2011. Cancers studied included some of the most fatal: lung, breast, colorectal, prostate, thyroid, esophageal, pancreatic, endometrial, ovarian, head and neck, liver, bladder/kidney, melanoma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Within just one month of post-op, 5% (that’s 53,500 patients) had died. Single, older, uninsured, minority, male, and less educated individuals, as well as those with advanced cancer, were at the most risk for death. Specifically…

  • Men had an 11% increased risk
  • Older patients had a 2% increased risk
  • Minority patients a 13% increased risk
  • Advanced cancer patients an 89% increased risk

Married, insured, wealthier, and more educated patients fared much better. Specifically…

  • Married patients had a 20% decreased risk
  • Insured patients a 12% decreased risk
  • Higher income patients a 5% decreased risk
  • Better educated patients a 2% decreased risk

Notably, 40% of the patients were younger than 65 and not eligible for Medicare, which calls into question the access some of these patients had to quality health care.

Lead author Brandon Mahal, a research fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, explains: “We believe that disproportionate access to quality health care is the major driver of the disparities in one-month cancer surgical deaths observed in this study.”

One more reason to be ever-vigilant in securing and safeguarding your health.