The link between proximity to cancer centers and stage of disease: New findings

Patients who live farther away from a designated comprehensive cancer center may be more likely to receive a late-stage diagnosis, according to an analysis of medical records from researchers at Baltimore-based John Hopkins Medicine.

Researchers analyzed records from more than 94,000 cancer patients to assess how proximity to a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, insurance status and other social determinants of health affect the odds of receiving an early- or late-stage cancer diagnosis. The team evaluated data from patients in the Johns Hopkins Hospital cancer registry who received a diagnosis, cancer treatment or both from 2010 to 2019. 

The findings, published May 2 in JAMA Network Open, showed patients who lived outside the catchment area — which researchers defined as the closest 75% of patients based on miles along the road network using Johns Hopkins' hospitals as the geographic mean center — had higher odds of a late-stage diagnosis. That finding is based on patients who received only treatment or only a diagnosis at a comprehensive cancer center. 

"While travel distance could be a factor in seeking only a diagnosis or only treatment, the finding suggests that some [comprehensive cancer center] patients rely on more than one facility for their cancer care," researchers said in a May 22 news release. 

People with no insurance, unknown insurance or Medicaid also had a higher odds of late-stage cancer diagnosis. Non-Hispanic Black patients also had higher odds of late-stage diagnosis compared to the average, regardless of their proximity to Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. 

Read more on the study here

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