Socioeconomic Factors May Impact Multiple Myeloma Survival

A study found that two specific socioeconomic factors – household income and education level – play an important role in long-term survival among patients with multiple myeloma (MM). These factors influenced survival more than race and ethnicity alone, according to the study.

Luciano Costa, MD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and authors analyzed cancer registry data for more than 10,000 U.S. patients diagnosed with MM by 65 years of age. At the time of diagnosis, half of the patients were at least 57 years old, and almost two-thirds were married. Most had health insurance.

The authors found that among those without socioeconomic disadvantages, 71 percent survived at least four years after diagnosis. An unmarried patient who lived in a low-income county and received insurance through Medicaid was 25 percent less likely to survive four years compared with a married person of the same age with private insurance living in a more affluent community.

The more socioeconomic disadvantages a person faced, the more survival rates decreased. For example:

  • For a person insured by Medicaid, 4-year survival decreased to about 63%.
  • For an unmarried person living in a poor community, 4-year survival decreased to about 53%.
  • For a person who was unmarried, insured by Medicaid, and living in a poor neighborhood, 4-year survival decreased to <47%.

“This finding strongly suggests that there is a huge disparity in outcomes that could potentially be overcome by improving access and affordability of treatments,” said Dr. Costas.

The study is limited by its lack of details on the exact type of MM patients had and how advanced tumors were at the time of diagnosis.

Source: Reuters, August 22, 2016.

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