Life-Saving Drugs Untaken in Appalachia

Nearly a third of breast cancer survivors in Appalachia are not taking the critical, potentially life-saving follow-up treatment – despite having insurance that would pay for it, a troubling new study has found.

Researchers cross-examined cancer registries with Medicare claims data and determined that of 428 women, approximately 30 percent failed to follow through with their prescribed adjuvant hormone therapy, a treatment to prevent the cancer’s recurrence.

“Almost a third of the prescriptions for adjuvant hormone therapy were not filled, which is much, much higher compared to what we usually see in commercially insured populations,” said Rajesh Balkrishnan of the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences. “Usually it ranges from about 10 [percent] to 15 percent, so this is almost double that. A third of the women going without adjuvant hormone therapy – that is a scary prospect.”

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