Socioeconomic Status Plays Role in Whether Patients Receive Appropriate Treatment for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, Study Finds
Socioeconomic factors such as income and education appear to affect whether people with non-Hodgkin lymphoma receive appropriate treatment, according to a study in the journal Cancer, Reuters reports. While mortality from the disease was higher among blacks, the gap disappeared after researchers accounted for socioeconomic status. According to the researchers, no other studies have examined racial differences in mortality from non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
For the study, Xianglin Du of the University of Texas School of Public Health and colleagues examined 13,321 Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older who were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma between 1992 and 1999. The study population included 11,868 whites, 533 blacks and 920 people of other races and ethnicities. About 72% of the black patients and 22% of white patients were in the lowest income category, and blacks also were more likely than whites to have a lower level of education.
According to the study, 43% of blacks and 52% of whites received chemotherapy, the standard treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In addition, 18% of blacks and 24% of whites received radiation treatment, which is recommended for some patients with the disease. Patients' socioeconomic status and whether they received chemotherapy affected survival, according to the study. For patients receiving chemotherapy, the average survival period was 32.5 months, compared with 11.9 months for those who did not receive the treatment, the study found.
Du said that every non-Hodgkin lymphoma patient should receive appropriate treatment. Du also said that boosting overall education levels could help ensure that people with non-Hodgkin lymphoma are diagnosed earlier and treated appropriately. Those with less education or lower incomes might not be as able as others to cover out-of-pocket costs and have insurance, Du said (Harding, Reuters, 10/21).
An abstract of the study is available online.