Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Health Sciences

Abstract

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the U.S., with about 138,000 diagnoses annually. Early diagnosis through screening dramatically increases patient survival rates. Insured individuals may have better access to cancer screening, and as a result, better health outcomes. The purpose of this study was to determine if insurance status affects the probability of a late stage colorectal cancer diagnosis. We analyzed 3006 cases of colorectal cancer from 2002 to 2011 gathered from the Montana Central Tumor Registry (MCTR) and used Chi-square tests to compare stage of cancer diagnosis to insurance status, ethnicity, age, and year. Results suggested that patient insurance status is an important indicator of the stage at which patients are diagnosed with colorectal cancer (F=17.0515, p-value=0.0002, critical value=9.210, alpha=0.01). These results support public health policy that extends health insurance coverage to a greater proportion of the population in order to decrease the probability of late stage colorectal cancer diagnoses and better community health outcomes.

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