CHARACTERISTICS OF CANCER PATIENTS AND BARRIERS TO APPROPRIATE ACCESS TO CANCER TREATMENT: A RURAL UNDERSERVED AREA IN CALIFORNIA
Student’s Name: Helen Palomino, MSW Supervising Mentor: Jong-Deuk Baek, PhD
Background: Cancer care disparities are well reported between racial minority groups
including African Americans and Hispanic populations. This report is, as far as we know, the
first attempt to show the financial burden and insurance conversion among cancer patients in the
medically underserved U.S./Mexico area of Imperial County, California. The objectives of this
report are to evaluate demographic and cancer characteristics among patients living in a rural
medically underserved Imperial County community and to evaluate financial and other barriers
to cancer care faced by patients living in this community.
Method: Data from this report was analyzed using a sample of 308 CRCD clients of both genders, with varying cancer diagnosis, and enrolled in CRCD from January 1, 2011 and July 31, 2012. The majority of CRCD cancer patients in the sample are Latino/Hispanic (85%).
Results: Majority of cancer patients are younger (< 60 of age), under FPL, and small household (one or less). Higher proportions of breast cancer and blood cancer; higher proportions of female and younger patients diagnosed at Mexico; females have higher percentage of advanced cancer diagnosis. Financial burden, transportation, and language/cultural barriers were found to be the major concerns/needs of cancer patients.
Conclusion: When obstacles arise, it is vital that there be an advocate/partner with the patient to mitigate or remove barriers that interfere with the continuum of cancer care. Financial concerns and limited access to cancer care are significant challenges throughout the diagnostic, treatment, and post treatment journey in Imperial County.