More Breast Cancers Diagnosed at Late Stage With Medicaid Cuts

40.2 percent diagnosed late-stage after Medicaid cuts versus 35.4 percent before cuts

breast xray

MONDAY, June 26, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Medicaid cuts could lead to an increase in the number of women diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer, according to a study published online June 26 in Cancer.

Lindsay Sabik, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues looked at what happened after a budget crunch caused Tennessee to cut nearly 170,000 people from its Medicaid rolls in 2005. The researchers reasoned that women in low-income zip codes would be more affected by Medicaid cuts than those in higher-income areas. Low-income areas were those with a median yearly income of $38,700 or less.

Among women living in low-income zip codes, 40.2 percent of breast cancers diagnosed between 2005 and 2008 were late-stage. That was up from 35.4 percent in the three years before the Medicaid cuts. The researchers found an increase among women living in higher-income zip codes, too. But the change was smaller: Between 2005 and 2008, 36.2 percent of breast cancers were diagnosed at a late stage -- compared to 34.6 percent before the Medicaid rollback. The team also found that women in Tennessee faced more delays after 2005. By 2008, about 14 percent of women in both low- and higher-income areas waited more than 60 days for surgery (14.3 and 14.4 percent, respectively).

"The results of the current study indicate that Medicaid disenrollment is associated with a later stage of disease at the time of breast cancer diagnosis, thereby providing evidence of the potential negative health impacts of Medicaid contractions," the authors write.

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