Travel Distance Affects Breast Cancer Treatment

Uninsured, Hispanics, the elderly and unmarried women particularly at risk

MONDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) -- The longer the distance a breast cancer patient needs to travel to receive radiation therapy, the less likely she is to undergo breast-conserving surgery combined with radiation (BCSR) rather than mastectomy, according to a study published in the January 2006 issue of Cancer.

Lydia Voti, M.S., of the University of Miami, Florida, and colleagues analyzed data on 18,903 patients with localized breast cancer treated with BCSR or mastectomy. After devising a model to calculate the odds of receiving one therapy over the other, the findings were adjusted for health insurance status, age, race/ethnicity and marital status.

There was a negative association between receiving BCSR and distance to the closest radiation therapy facility, with the odds of receiving this treatment decreasing by 3% per five-mile increase in distance. Insured women were 49% more likely than their uninsured counterparts to receive BCSR. Increasing age reduced the odds by 1% per year, Hispanic women were 38% less likely than white non-Hispanic women to receive BCSR, and married women were 23% more likely to receive it than women of any other marital status.

"For Hispanic women, the combination of socioeconomic and cultural barriers may decrease the access to health care; moreover, to special consultation regarding specific treatment options, which in turn may result in the lower use of BCSR," the authors conclude.

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