Income Affects Treatment Outcome Even When Access to Care is Equal

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Income, or affluence, plays a role in the survival rates of a treatable blood cancer even when access to the treatment is equal, according to a new report in the UK.

While it has always been understood that in places like the United States, being rich or poor can definitely have an impact on the type and quality of cancer treatment one receives, and on the outcomes from treatment, one might not expect the same to be true in places where the access to care is the same regardless of one's financial situation.

A new study from the UK suggests otherwise.

The study, carried out by the Haematological Malignancy Research Network (HMRN) at the University of York and funded by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, found that survival rates for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a highly treatable leukemia that was once almost universally fatal but today can be managed by daily medication, were substantially lower among poorer people than among more affluent people despite the fact that the UK has universal health care.

Income may be related to care management

According to the findings, almost 95 percent of affluent CML patients were still alive after five years, compared to just 80 percent of CML patients from "more deprived" regions.

Furthermore, about 40 percent of all CML patients looked at in the study came from less affluent regions, but they accounted for 60 percent of the deaths.

Researchers concluded that, since CML medication requires full compliance and occasional physician office checkups, the inequalities in outcome may derive from the lack of support in remaining compliant or in getting to a doctor's office among less affluent patients.

"This study gives invaluable insight into real-life issues that affect blood cancer patients," said Dr. Matt Kaiser, Head of Research at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. "To give patients the best chance of long-term survival and quality of life, we need to confirm whether some patients may be dying because they are not taking their tablets regularly. This would be crucial in guiding what support patients need and how we can give it most effectively."

Source: Medicalxpress

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