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Keywords:

  • acute myeloid leukemia;
  • health insurance;
  • race;
  • disparities;
  • costs;
  • and survival

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

African American race and uninsurance are associated with undertreatment and poor survival in solid tumor cancers. This relationship has not been examined in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) where absence of treatment or treatment delays can result in death within weeks or months. Induction followed by consolidation treatment, in contrast, has a high probability for remission or cure. We examined the relationship between race and health insurance and inpatient chemotherapy and survival in AML patients between the ages of 21 and 64 years. We also examined inpatient costs associated with inpatient treatment.

METHODS:

We used population-based data from the Virginia Cancer Registry and the Virginia Health Information discharge data for patients diagnosed with AML between 1999 and 2006 (n = 523). Adjusted logistic regression was used to measure the relationship between the independent variables and chemotherapy. We used the Cox proportional hazards method to estimate survival.

RESULTS:

Uninsured patients were more likely to be untreated than their privately insured counterparts (odds ratio, 4.40; 95% confidence interval, 1.85-10.49) and had a higher likelihood of death (hazard ratio, 1.29; 95% confidence interval, 1.02-1.84). Once treatment was adjusted in the survival analyses, differences between insurance groups were not statistically significant. The median 1-year cost of inpatient care following diagnosis for patients who received chemotherapy exceeded $100,000.

CONCLUSION:

This study addressed the urgency for health insurance that affords access to care. Without treatment, the outcome of AML is death within only a few months; with treatment, the chance for long-term remission or even cure exists. Cancer 2011;. © 2011 American Cancer Society.