Social factors such as marital status, insurance status, and income may affect the chances of survival in young patients with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
For the study, the researchers analysed data from 5,541 patients younger than 65 years.
They found that AML patients who were single or divorced, patients who were uninsured, and patients who lived in areas with lower income had substantially elevated risks of dying prematurely.
“We believe these three factors indicate lack of material and social support preventing young patients from successfully walking the long and difficult road towards a cure,” said lead author of the study Uma Borate, assistant professor at University of Alabama at Birmingham in the US.
Over the years, tremendous progress in AML treatment has been made in identifying disease characteristics that cause a patient to have a higher or lower chance of cure following intense treatment, which often involves bone marrow transplantation.
But the new findings suggest that in addition to age and disease characteristics, other “non-biological” patient characteristics also matter.
“As physicians, we often emphasise more of the biology of the cancer, especially with the recent focus on personalised medicine. But we need to pay the same attention to resources available to our patients, as this greatly impacts their chances to survive leukemia,” senior author Luciano Jose Costa, associate professor at University of Alabama at Birmingham said.
The study was published online in the journal CANCER.
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