A study by Sujha Subramanian, Ph.D., of RTI International, Waltham, Mass., and Amy Chen, M.D., of the Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, examined the factors associated with receiving treatment and mortality among Medicaid patients with head and neck cancers. (Online First)
Included in the study were 1,308 Medicaid beneficiaries (ages 18 to 64 years). The study used Medicaid claims linked with cancer registry data for two states, California and Georgia, for 2002 through 2006. The main outcome measures were receipt of treatment and 12- and 24-month mortality.
The study suggests that less than one-third of Medicaid patients were diagnosed with cancer at an early stage. Overall, black patients were less likely to receive surgical treatment and more likely to die than white patients. Older age and disability status also were associated with increased 12-month mortality. According to the results, patients in California who were alive for at least 12 months have about half the odds of dying within 24 months compared with those in Georgia.
“Concrete steps should be taken to address the significant racial disparities observed in head and neck cancer outcomes among Medicaid beneficiaries. Further research is needed to explore the state-level policies and attributes to examine the startling differences in mortality among the state Medicaid programs analyzed in this study,” the study concludes.
(JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online April 18, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2013.2549.