Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) found that despite a greater health risk, female survivors of adolescent and young adult cancer use certain general and cancer-related preventive services at similar levels as the same age and sex individuals without a history of cancer. This research study was recently published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship. The lead author of this study, Ms. Jaqueline C. Avila, is a PhD student in the population health sciences program in the department of preventive medicine and community health. She utilized the national Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data from 2008 to 2012 to conduct the study analyses.
Improved access to preventive services is one of the key objectives of both the Healthy People 2020 and the Affordable Care Act. Female survivors of adolescent and young adult cancer require preventive services for disease detection and management. For example, the national guidelines recommend that survivors of adolescent and young adult cancer receive a detailed medical check-up every year. Yet, the current study demonstrates that close to 30 percent of female survivors did not receive a medical check-up in the previous year. Female survivors reported dental checkups less often than the comparison group, and checked their blood pressure and cholesterol more often. No differences were found in flu shots, and medical checkups. Use of cancer-related services (i.e., Pap smear and mammography) did not differ between survivors and the comparison group, and only 52.5 percent of cancer survivors and 57.7 percent of women without cancer history had a mammography according to the guidelines. A number of survivor characteristics were associated with greater general preventive services use (i.e., dental, medical, blood pressure, and cholesterol checkups, and flu shots). Older survivors and those who spoke a language other than English were more likely to use general preventive services, while uninsured survivors were less likely to use these services. Therefore, uninsured and younger female survivors require targeted medical support to access preventive services more effectively. Moreover, survivors should be educated about the benefits of preventive services for maintaining their future health in an attempt to increase service use. Other authors include UTMB’s Drs. Yong-Fang Kuo, Ana M. Rodriguez, Rebeca Wong, and Sapna Kaul.