The farther they have to travel, the less likely cancer patients are to receive follow-up chemotherapy after surgery, a new study finds.
This type of treatment, called adjuvant chemotherapy, is recommended for many patients after surgery to reduce the chance of cancer returning.
This study looked at nearly 34,700 patients across the United States who had surgery for colon cancer, and found that nearly 76 percent received adjuvant chemotherapy within 90 days of surgery.
Compared to patients who had to travel less than 12.5 miles to appointments, those who had to travel 50 to 249 miles were 13 percent less likely to receive chemotherapy. And those who had to travel 250 miles or more were nearly two-thirds less likely to receive chemotherapy.
The findings applied to patients with and without insurance, according to the study published online Aug. 24 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
“While it is reassuring that most patients in this study received adjuvant chemotherapy on time, the fact that patients traveling more than 50 miles were less likely to receive chemotherapy, regardless of insurance status, is concerning,” said lead author Chun Chieh Lin, senior epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, in a journal news release.
“It tells us expanded insurance coverage, while important, might not fully address the barriers to patients receiving guideline-recommended treatment,” Lin added.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about cancer chemotherapy.