People who suspect they may have cancer but wait to get a diagnosis until they are eligible for Medicare coverage could negatively impact their ability to survive mesothelioma.
That is the message from a new Stanford study. The study suggests that many people wait until they are 65 to seek cancer care.
For people with a fast-growing cancer like mesothelioma, delaying diagnosis by waiting for Medicare coverage could have devastating consequences.
Early Mesothelioma Diagnosis Key to Survival
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a form of lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. It is one of the most deadly types of cancer. Like most cancers, the chances of surviving mesothelioma are higher the earlier it is diagnosed.
But mesothelioma is not easy to diagnose. Most patients end up having imaging scans, biopsies, and blood tests. These tests can be expensive. If a patient is uninsured for any reason, they may decide to wait to have tests until their Medicare coverage kicks in at age 65.
Stanford researchers first noticed this trend among people with lung cancer. They noticed that the rate of lung cancer diagnosis was twice as high among 65-year-olds as it was among 64-year-olds.
When they looked deeper using a national cancer database, they discovered that 13 to 25 percent of people between 61 and 64 are uninsured. This is the age when many people first notice symptoms of mesothelioma.
“These individuals often lack insurance as a result of early retirement, pre-existing conditions hindering renewal, the high cost of private insurance and other causes,” the study authors wrote.
They also found that cancer patients who have Medicare coverage are more likely to have surgery. Multiple studies suggest that mesothelioma surgery is closely linked to longer survival.
Paying for Mesothelioma Care Even without Medicare Coverage
While it is frightening to receive a cancer diagnosis, early diagnosis is the key to the best mesothelioma outcomes. People who lived or worked around asbestos face a higher risk for mesothelioma and should be aware of early signs of the disease.
Early symptoms of pleural mesothelioma may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
Often, these symptoms do not develop until patients are in their 70s. But younger mesothelioma patients have better odds of survival. If mesothelioma is suspected, it pays to get it checked out as soon as possible.
Mesothelioma patients who do not yet have Medicare coverage may have more financial options than other cancer patients.
Some companies have set aside large funds to pay employees who were harmed by asbestos work. If a person’s mesothelioma was the result of employer negligence, they may be eligible for compensation. But timing is important. The sooner a mesothelioma patient files a legal case, the better.
CLICK HERE to learn more about your legal rights and possible options to pay for mesothelioma care with or without Medicare coverage.
“Jump in cancer diagnoses at 65 implies patients wait for Medicare, according to Stanford study”, Press Release, Stanford School of Medicine, http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2021/03/Cancer-diagnoses-implies-patients-wait-for-Medicare.html