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Uninsured Children and Young Adults More Likely to have Advanced Cancer

Update Date: Feb 24, 2014 03:04 PM EST

Health insurance and financial capability are huge factors when it comes to an individual's health. A lack of either could result in more health complications that arise when older ones are left untreated. In a new study, researchers from the American Cancer Society examined the effects of being insured or uninsured on advanced cancer diagnoses. They found that children and young adults that do not have insurance have a higher chance of getting diagnosed with advanced cancer.

 "The findings suggest that policies such as the Affordable Care Act that increase the number of people in America with health coverage will result in fewer late-stage cancer diagnoses and save lives," the authors wrote according to Medical Xpress.

Lead investigator and director of health services research at the American Cancer Society, Anthony Robbins, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues examined data on around 260,000 cancer patients. The patients were between 15 and 39-years-old and were a part of the National Cancer Database. The researchers calculated that uninsured males were 1.51 more likely to be diagnosed with a type of cancer that has already progressed into its later stages. For women, that same likelihood jumped to 1.86 times.

The researchers also reported that the uninsured patients tended to be younger, male and black or Hispanic. They were more likely to be from the South and received treatment from teaching and research centers as opposed to NCI-designated facilities. These patients tended to live in low-income neighborhoods and in neighborhoods with a low high school graduation rate.

"We believe that this observation holds the promise of improved cancer control efforts in the AYA (adolescent and young adult) population, after decades in which AYA patients have experienced far less victory in the War on Cancer than their younger and older counterparts," the authors wrote. "However, the success of these efforts may be directly tied to the fate of the Medicaid expansion component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which, at the time of this writing, remains quite unclear."

The study was published in the journal Cancer.

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