SUNDAY, June 3 (HealthDay News) -- Low-income cancer patients
are less likely to participate in clinical trials, according to a
new study that found income affects participation even among older
patients likely to have Medicare.
The researchers said patients may not have equal access to study
The research was scheduled for presentation Sunday at the
American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, in
"This is the first time in a large, national study that we have
actual patient-reported income on which to base this finding,"
study lead author Joseph Unger, a health services researcher and
statistician with the SWOG Statistical Center at the Fred
Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle, said in a society
news release. "Our study found that after accounting for all
factors such as age, education, sex, race, medical conditions and
distance to a clinic, income on its own was associated with a
patient's clinical trial participation."
Patients participating in clinical trials tend to receive
high-quality cancer care, while contributing to researchers'
understanding of cancer and the development of new treatments, the
U.S. National Cancer Institute says.
The researchers surveyed approximately 5,500 adults recently
diagnosed with breast, lung, colon, or prostate cancer about their
treatment decisions over the course of four years. Forty percent
had discussed clinical trials with their doctor, and 45 percent of
these discussions led to an offer for participation in a clinical
trial, the study found. Of these offers, about half led to
participation in a clinical trial for an overall participation rate
of 9 percent.
Patients with a reported annual income of less than $50,000 were
roughly 30 percent less likely to participate in a clinical trial
than those who had a higher income, the researchers found. And
patients who made less than $20,000 a year were 44 percent less
likely to be involved in clinical trials than patients with higher
Lower-income patients, the study showed, were more concerned
about how to pay for their participation in a clinical trial than
higher-income patients. The researchers suggested some possible
financial barriers might be direct costs, such as co-pays, and
indirect costs, such as having to take time off work.
Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data
and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in
a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about
cancer health disparities.
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