25 August 2015

Distance a hurdle for follow-up chemotherapy

Cancer patients who live further away from hospitals are less likely to receive follow-up treatment compared to patients who live closer.


The farther they have to travel, the less likely cance patients are to receive follow-up chemotherapy after surgery, a new study finds.

Adjuvant chemotherapy

This type of treatment, called adjuvant chemotherapy, is recommended for many patients after surgery to reduce the chance of cancer returning.

Read: Blacks less likely to get chemo for colon cancer

This study looked at nearly 34,700 patients across the United States who had surgery for colon cancer, and found that nearly 76 percent received adjuvant chemotherapy within 90 days of surgery.

Compared to patients who had to travel less than 20.1 km (12.5 miles) to appointments, those who had to travel 80 to 400 km (50 to 249 miles) were 13 percent less likely to receive chemotherapy. And those who had to travel 402 km (250 miles) or more were nearly two-thirds less likely to receive chemotherapy.

The findings applied to patients with and without insurance, according to the study published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Read: Poorer women get less chemo

"While it is reassuring that most patients in this study received adjuvant chemotherapy on time, the fact that patients traveling more than 80km (50miles) were less likely to receive chemotherapy, regardless of insurance status, is concerning," said lead author Chun Chieh Lin, senior epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, in a journal news release.

"It tells us expanded insurance coverage, while important, might not fully address the barriers to patients receiving guideline-recommended treatment," Lin added.

Read more:

Technology may hold the key to fighting cancer

Fish and exercise combat colon cancer recurrence 

Can pre-diabetes raise cancer risk?  

Image: Chemotherapy vitals from Wikimedia

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