The following is a summary of “Race, Affordability and Utilization of Supportive Care in Ovarian Cancer Patients” published in the September 2022 issue of Pain and Symptom Management by Anyanwu et al.

Cancer patients frequently report not having access to supportive care (SC). However, little was known about how affordability affected the gap in ovarian cancer (OC) patients.

The SEER-Medicare dataset allowed for the identification of patients who had OC between 2008 and 2015. In individuals with Medicare Part D coverage, racial differences in the use of SC medicines within six months of OC diagnosis were investigated. After correcting for clinical factors across all patients and individually among patients with advanced-stage illness, multivariable log-binomial regression models were used to investigate the relationships between race, affordability, and SC medicines.

Over 3,697 patients made up the research group, of whom 86% were non-Hispanic White (NHW), 6% were non-Hispanic Black (NHB), and 8% were Hispanic. In models that were adjusted, patients who were NHB or Hispanic had a lower likelihood of using antidepressants than patients who were NHW (NHB: aOR 0.46; 95% CI 0.33-0.63; and Hispanic: aOR 0.79; 95% CI 0.63-0.99). For NHB patients with advanced illness, the relationship was maintained (aOR 0.42; 95% CI 0.28-0.62). Antidepressant use was higher among patients who were also enrolled in Medicaid (overall: aOR 1.34; 95% CI 1.17-1.53; and advanced-stage: aOR 1.29; 95% CI 1.10-1.52). However, patients who lived in locations with greater vs. lower proportions of persons with lower education were less likely to be prescribed antidepressants (overall: aOR 0.82; 95% CI 0.70-0.97 and advanced-stage: aOR 0.82; 95% CI 0.68-0.99).

Fewer black OC patients and residents of less educated communities received antidepressants as SC. Interventions were required to provide equal access to SC since post-primary treatment quality of life for cancer patients is crucial.