States that expanded Medicaid diagnosed colon cancer earlier, study finds

States that expanded Medicaid increased the number of colon cancer screenings and led to more detected cancers, according to a pre-publication study in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Researchers reviewed colon cancer data for 4,438 patients in 19 states that expanded Medicaid and 6,017 patients in 19 states that didn't expand Medicaid. They compared data from 2011 through 2012 and 2015 through 2016 to compare the effects of the expansion.

Researchers found an increase of early stage colon cancer diagnoses in states that expanded Medicaid. There were no differences in length of stay, readmission rates or mortality rates, but patients with colon cancer in stages 1 through 3 received care earlier in states that expanded Medicaid.

The study did not track survival rates or other long-term results.

Samer T. Tohme, MD, surgical oncologist at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, said, "Studies like ours are building an increasing body of work that suggests the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion are improving healthcare access and treatment for cancer patients."

The American College of Surgeons publicized the study Nov. 23.

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