Under use of necessary care among cancer survivors

Cancer. 2004 Oct 15;101(8):1712-9. doi: 10.1002/cncr.20560.


Comorbid conditions are the major threat to life for many cancer survivors, yet little is known about the quality of the noncancer-related health care they receive. The authors analyzed the Medicare claims of 14,884 Medicare-eligible, 5-year colorectal carcinoma survivors who were diagnosed initially while they lived in a region monitored by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program and compared them with matched controls who had no history of cancer drawn from the Medicare 5% sample. In both univariable and multivariable analyses, cancer survivorship was associated with an increased likelihood of not receiving recommended care across a broad range of chronic medical conditions (odds ratio, 1.19, 95% confidence interval, 1.12-1.27). For example, colorectal carcinoma survivors were less likely than controls to receive appropriate follow-up for heart failure, necessary diabetic care, or recommended preventive services. Having both primary care physicians and oncologists involved in follow-up appeared to ameliorate this effect significantly. African-American, poor, and elderly patients were less likely to receive necessary care in both groups. Whether it was due to patient factors, physician factors, or both, cancer survivors appear to be a vulnerable patient population, because their cancer diagnosis may shift attention away from important noncancer problems and providers. In addition, there may be lack of clarity around the relative roles primary care and specialist physicians will play in a survivor's care. Special attention and education are needed to ensure that survivors receive optimal medical services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Preventive Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • SEER Program
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data*