Affordable Care Act Increases Rate of Early Cancer Detection

The exception was diagnosis of early-stage prostate cancer, which actually declined.
The exception was diagnosis of early-stage prostate cancer, which actually declined.

HealthDay News -- According to a study scheduled for presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, more cancers have been diagnosed in their early stages since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented.

Xuesong Han, PhD, the strategic director of health policy and health care delivery research at the American Cancer Society, and colleagues used data from a national hospital-based cancer registry that captures 70% of new cancer cases in the United States.

They looked specifically for cancers diagnosed during 2013 and 2014 among individuals under 65. Han's team identified 121,855 women with breast cancer, while 39,568 people 50 to 64 were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, 11,265 women between 21 and 64 had cervical cancer, and 59,626 men between 50 and 64 had prostate cancer. 

Lung cancer was diagnosed in 41,504 people aged 55 to 64 during the study. The investigators found that the percentage of patients diagnosed with stage I cancer increased significantly from 2013 to 2014 after the ACA was implemented.

For breast cancer, the diagnosis of early disease increased from 47.8 to 48.9%. For colorectal cancer it rose from 22.8 to 23.7%. And for lung cancer from 16.6 to 17.7%. The findings for cervical cancer weren't statistically significant.

Diagnosis of early-stage prostate cancer, however, declined from 18.5 to 17.2%. The most likely explanation for that decline is that the US Preventive Services Task Force recommended that men forgo routine screening for prostate cancer, Han told HealthDay.

Reference

More Cancers Diagnosed at Early Stage Following Increase in Health Insurance Coverage [press release]. Alexandria, VA: American Society of Clinical Oncology; May 17, 2017.

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