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September 24, 2003

Hospice Use in Medicare Beneficiaries With Cancer

JAMA. 2003;290(12):1578. doi:10.1001/jama.290.12.1578-a

To the Editor: Dr McCarthy and colleagues1 found that 27% of Medicare beneficiaries with lung cancer had access to hospice services. They also found that the percentage was lower among those patients with Medicare fee-for-service than among those with Medicare managed care.

However, they reported that only 16.4% of patients with breast cancer had access to hospice care. This lesser access does not seem to be explained by sex differences because men with prostate cancer had a similar rate of access (18.1%). The cohort comprised Medicare beneficiaries originally diagnosed as having cancer. This sampling procedure therefore included all terminally ill patients regardless of their clinical scenarios.

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