Lung Cancer Treatment Varies by Insurance Type

By Steve Barrett
Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Patients with nonmetastatic small-cell lung cancer are less likely to receive both chemotherapy and thoracic radiation — the standard of care for initial management of the disease — if they rely on federal programs such as Medicare or Medicaid than if they have private insurance, according to researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

There was no difference in rates at which patients on government programs versus private insurance received chemotherapy, the study found. However, those on Medicare or Medicaid were less likely to receive both chemotherapy and radiation, noted Senior Author Stephen G. Chun, MD, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at MD Anderson. Patients with no form of insurance were less likely to receive either.

Median survival was 18.2 months for patients who underwent chemotherapy and radiation. For those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation alone, median survival was 10.5 and 8.3 months, respectively. Those receiving neither had median survival of 3.7 months.

The findings appear in JAMA Oncology.