What Factors Influence Minority Use of National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Centers?

Elderly African-American woman riding a city bus.

Living farther away (>5 miles) from an NCI setting predicted a lower use in study population.

The Issue:
Patients who are treated in one of the 67 National Cancer Institute (NCI) cancer centers in the United States have better outcomes and survival rates than those treated elsewhere. Researchers wanted to determine what factors—geographic accessibility, insurance status, and neighborhood socioeconomic status—influence minorities to use NCI cancer centers.

Key Findings

  • Slightly fewer than 5 percent of study patients were treated in NCI settings.

  • The median travel distance to receive any care was less than five miles.

  • More African Americans (15%) than Whites (12.4%) living nearby used NCI cancer centers.

  • Lower odds of NCI center use was associated with increasing unemployment (4% lower) and increasing poverty (12% lower), while increasing the percentage of college-educated residents in a neighborhood raised the odds (42% higher) that residents would use the center.

Community outreach and patient education efforts may increase minorities’ use of NCI centers.

About the Study:
Investigators linked data from the California Cancer Registry to discharge information on all patients with colorectal cancer (79,231) treated over a 10-year period (1996–2006). Patients of a large HMO were excluded from the study.