Access to specialized treatment by adult Hispanic brain tumor patients: findings from a single-institution retrospective study


Background: The Hispanic population accounts for 15% of the population of the United States, and for as much as 75% in cities throughout California. Racial disparities that are reflected by limited access to health care and worse disease outcomes are well documented for adult Hispanic cancer patients.

Objective: To determine whether there are similar disparities—including delays in accessing surgery, radiation, and oncologic care—for adult Hispanic non English-speaking (HNES) neuro-oncology patients and white English-only–speaking (WES) patients in an academic, tertiary care center with a multidisciplinary neuro-oncology team.

Methods: This retrospective study was conducted at the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center of the University of California, Irvine. All patients who were diagnosed with a primary brain tumor during January 1, 2003, to December 31, 2008, were identified and data were collected on their age, sex, ethnicity, languages spoken, diagnosis, and insurance status. The times from the date of diagnosis to the date of surgery, from the date of surgery to the date of starting radiation (if indicated), and from the date of finishing radiation to the date of starting chemotherapy (if indicated) were also recorded.

Results: Most of the HNES patients (56.4%) had state insurance for the indigent, whereas most of the WES patients (41.8%) had private insurance from a health maintenance organization. Moreover, 12.8% of HNES patients were uninsured, compared with 4.5% of WES patients. There were no significant delays in the time from diagnosis to surgery, but there was a significant delay in access to radiation treatment (P .023). There were no differences on overall survival between the 2 groups of patients.

Limitations: This is a retrospective study of a relatively small number of patients. Larger studies are needed to corroborate these findings.

Conclusions: The findings demonstrate that there are disparities in insurance status and access to radiation therapy between HNES and WES neuro-oncology patients.

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