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Cancer stage at presentation for incarcerated patients at a single urban tertiary care center.

Sunthankar KI, Griffith KN, Talutis SD, Rosen AK, McAneny DB, Kulke MH, Tseng JF, Sachs TE. Cancer stage at presentation for incarcerated patients at a single urban tertiary care center. PLoS ONE. 2020 Sep 15; 15(9):e0237439.

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Patients who are incarcerated are a vulnerable patient population and may suffer from less access to routine cancer screenings compared to their non-incarcerated counterparts. Therefore, a thorough evaluation of potential differences in cancer diagnosis staging is needed. We sought to examine whether there are differences in cancer stage at initial diagnosis between non-incarcerated and incarcerated patients by pursuing a retrospective chart review from 2010-2017 for all patients who were newly diagnosed with cancer at an urban safety net hospital. Incarceration status was determined by insurance status. Our primary outcome was incarceration status at time of initial cancer diagnosis. Overall, patients who were incarcerated presented at a later cancer stage for all cancer types compared to the non-incarcerated (+.14 T stage, p = .033; +.23 N stage, p < .001). Incarcerated patients were diagnosed at later stages for colorectal (+0.93 T stage, p < .001; +.48 N stage, p < .001), oropharyngeal (+0.37 N stage, p = .003), lung (+0.60 N stage, p = .018), skin (+0.59 N stage, p = 0.014), and screenable cancers (colorectal, prostate, lung) as a whole (+0.23 T stage, p = 0.002; +0.17 N stage, p = 0.008). Incarcerated patients may benefit from more structured screening protocols in order to improve the stage at presentation for certain malignancies.

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