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Adjuvant Treatment for Breast Cancer Low in Poor Women

Study finds only 64 percent of poor insured women fill prescriptions

TUESDAY, May 26 (HealthDay News) -- Only 64 percent of poor insured women with breast cancer fill prescriptions for adjuvant hormonal treatment, even though this is known to reduce cancer mortality, according to a study published online May 18 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Gretchen Kimmick, M.D., from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and colleagues analyzed data on the use of adjuvant hormonal therapy from 1,491 poor women in North Carolina with hormone receptor-positive or unknown, nonmetastatic breast cancer who were receiving Medicaid.

The researchers found that 64 percent of women filled prescriptions. Women who filled prescriptions were more likely to be unmarried (odds ratio, 1.82); be treated in a small hospital (odds ratio, 1.49); have a higher stage cancer (odds ratio, 1.83) or a positive hormone receptor cancer (odds ratio, 1.98); have received no adjuvant chemotherapy (odds ratio, 1.74); and have received adjuvant radiation (odds ratio, 1.55). The adherence rate (medication possession ratio) was 60 percent, with greater adherence in unmarried women (odds ratio, 1.90). The persistence rate (absence of a 90-day gap in prescription fills over 12 months) was 80 percent, which was also higher in unmarried women (odds ratio, 1.75), the authors note.

"Prescription fill, adherence, and persistence to adjuvant hormonal therapy among socioeconomically disadvantaged women are low," Kimmick and colleagues conclude. "Improving use of adjuvant hormonal therapy may lead to lower breast cancer-specific mortality in this population."

Authors of the study reported financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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