Little has been reported regarding patterns of oncologic care in American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/AN). Observed worse survival has been attributed to later-stage presentation. We aimed to evaluate racial differences in cancer-directed therapy and hospice care utilization in AI/ANs and non-Hispanic whites (NHW) with metastatic cancer.
The linked Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare claims database was accessed for AI/AN and NHW metastatic-cancer cases diagnosed between 2001 and 2007. Utilization of cancer-directed therapy (surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy) and/or hospice services was compared between AI/ANs and NHWs. Minimally adjusted (age, sex, diagnosis year) and fully-adjusted (also Klabunde comorbidity score, sociodemographic factors) regression models were used to estimate odds (OR) and hazard ratios (HR) for receipt of care.
AI/ANs were younger, more likely to reside in the West, be unmarried, have lower income, and live in a nonurban setting than NHWs. Fewer AI/ANs received any cancer-directed therapy (57% vs. 61% NHWs) within 3 months of diagnosis; sociodemographic factors accounted for much of this difference [fully-adjusted HR, 0.94; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.83-1.08]. We noted differences in hospice utilization between AI/ANs (52%) and NHWs (61%). A significant difference in hospice utilization remained after adjustment for sociodemographics (OR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.61-0.99).
Observed absolute differences in care for AI/ANs and NHWs with metastatic cancer were largely accounted for by adjusting for socioeconomics, comorbidities, and demographic factors. A significant association between race and hospice utilization was noted.
Efforts to improve metastatic-cancer care should focus on socioeconomic barriers and investigate the observed disparity in receipt of hospice services.
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