Detection of Gynecologic Cancers in Indigent Women in an Urban Inner-City Hospital


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Abstract

ObjectiveAccess to care is a major concern for impoverished urban communities in the United States, whereas early detection of gynecologic malignancies significantly influences ultimate survival. Our goal was to compare the stage at detection of common gynecologic cancers at an urban county hospital with national estimates, and to describe the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of this population.MethodsAll new patients presenting to the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County gynecologic oncology clinic from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2009, were reviewed under an institutional review board–approved protocol. Patients receiving primary treatment at the institution during these dates were included for analysis. We used χ2 tests to compare the institution’s stage distributions to national estimates.ResultsTwo hundred nineteen patients met inclusion criteria over the 2-year study period. Racial and ethnic minorities represented 72.5% of the population. Of the 219 patients, 56.1% (123/219) were uninsured and 37.9% (83/219) were covered by Medicaid or Medicare. We identified 97 (43.9%) cervical, 95 (43%) uterine, and 29 (13.1%) ovarian cancers, including 2 synchronous primaries. Compared to the National Cancer Data Base, women with uterine cancer at our institution were significantly more likely to present with later-stage disease (P < 0.05), whereas cervical cancer and ovarian cancer stage distributions did not differ significantly.ConclusionsCompared to national trends, women with uterine cancer presenting to an urban tertiary care public hospital have significantly more advanced disease, whereas those with cervical cancer do not. Nationally funded cervical cancer screening is successful but does not address all barriers to accessing gynecologic cancer care. Promotion of public education of endometrial cancer symptoms may be a vital need to impoverished communities with limited access to care.

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