Insurance status and stage of cancer at diagnosis among women with breast cancer

Michael T. Halpern, John Bian, Elizabeth M. Ward, Nicole M. Schrag, Amy Y. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. Individuals without medical insurance or with limited insurance are less likely than those with broader insurance coverage to receive preventive services and to seek timely medical care. The authors examined the associations of insurance status with stage at diagnosis among women with breast cancer. METHODS. This study included women age ≥40 years who were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer from 1998 to 2003 and who were reported to the National Cancer Data Base. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to examine the associations of insurance status with more advanced-stage breast cancer at diagnosis while controlling for other patient characteristics. RESULTS. Among the 533,715 women with breast cancer who were included in the current analysis, the proportions with advanced-stage (III/IV) cancer at diagnosis ranged from 8% among privately insured patients to 18% among uninsured patients and 19% among Medicaid patients; differences in the proportions of women with advanced-stage cancer were statistically significant (P < .0001). Regression analyses indicated that, compared with privately insured patients, uninsured patients and Medicaid patients had a greater likelihood of diagnosis at stage II (odds ratio [OR], ∼1.5) or at stages III/IV (OR, 2.4) versus stage I (P < .001). Black and Hispanic patients also were significantly more likely than white patients to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage (P < .001). CONCLUSIONS. The results from this study provided strong evidence that patients without health insurance or with Medicaid coverage, as well as black and Hispanic patients, were more likely to present with advanced-stage breast cancer. These results are consistent with other reports that have documented less use of preventive services, including mammography, among uninsured women and delays in diagnosis and treatment for black and Hispanic women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-411
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2007


  • Breast neoplasms
  • Data bases
  • Health insurance
  • Health services accessibility
  • Medicaid
  • Medically uninsured
  • Neoplasm staging
  • Outcome assessment
  • Retrospective studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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