The impact of health insurance coverage on racial/ethnic disparities in US childhood and adolescent cancer stage at diagnosis

Xiaoyan Wang, Derek S. Brown, Yin Cao, Christine C. Ekenga, Shenyang Guo, Kimberly J. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Racial/ethnic minority children and adolescents are more likely to have an advanced cancer diagnosis compared with non-Hispanic Whites, which may relate to the lack of consistent health care access. This study aims to describe racial/ethnic disparities in cancer diagnosis stage among children and adolescents and assess whether health insurance mediates these disparities. Methods: Data on individuals ≤19 years of age diagnosed with primary cancers from 2007 to 2016 were obtained from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results 18 database. Prevalence ratios (PRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the association between race/ethnicity and cancer diagnosis stage were calculated using Poisson regression. Analyses addressing health insurance as a potential mediator were also performed. Results: Compared with non-Hispanic Whites, racial/ethnic minorities had a higher prevalence of a distant cancer diagnosis, with PRs of 1.31 (95% CI, 1.23–1.40) for non-Hispanic Blacks, 1.14 (95% CI, 1.04–1.24) for non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 1.15 (95% CI, 1.09–1.21) for Hispanics. These associations were attenuated when adjusting for health insurance, with PRs of 1.24 (95% CI, 1.16–1.33) for non-Hispanic Blacks, 1.11 (95% CI, 1.02–1.21) for non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 1.07 (95% CI, 1.01–1.13) for Hispanics. Any Medicaid or no insurance at diagnosis mediated 49%, 22%, and 9% of the observed association with distant stage in Hispanics, non-Hispanic Blacks, and non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islanders, respectively. Conclusions: Disparities in cancer diagnosis stage in racial/ethnic minority children and adolescents may be partially explained by health insurance coverage. Further research is needed to understand the mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3196-3203
Number of pages8
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022


  • adolescent
  • early diagnosis
  • healthcare disparities
  • neoplasm
  • pediatric


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