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Lack of insurance a major cause of delayed breast cancer treatment among minority women

Lack of insurance coverage is a major cause of delayed breast cancer screening and treatment among minority women, which could lead to a decrease in a patient’s chance of survival, according to a new study.

Nearly half of the disparity in later-stage diagnosis between white (non-Hispanic) women and black, Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander women was related to being uninsured or underinsured, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Boston Medical Center/Boston University School of Medicine found. White (non-Hispanic) women were insured at a higher rate at the time of diagnosis compared with black (non-Hispanic) women, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic women.

“Diagnosing cancer at a later stage and lack of health insurance have negative consequences for patients and their families,” said Gregory Calip, one of the researchers. Insurance is a modifiable risk factor, and “having adequate health insurance for all could reduce the persistent racial outcome disparities in breast cancer,” Naomi Ko, another researcher, added.

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