said Dr. Emily Wang, professor of medicine (General Medicine) and of public health (Social and Behavioral Sciences) and senior author of the study. She is also director of the SEICHE Center for Health and Justice at Yale.
The study compared data using a statewide link between tumor registry and correctional system data for adults in Connecticut diagnosed with invasive cancer from 2005 through 2016.
After accounting for demographics and cancer characteristics, including stage of diagnosis, the risk for cancer-related death at five years was significantly higher among those diagnosed while incarcerated and those recently released compared to the remainder of the population.
"This is a call to action" said Dr. Cary Gross, professor of medicine (General Medicine) and of epidemiology (Chronic Diseases), and founding director of the Cancer Outcomes, Public Policy and Effectiveness Research (COPPER) Center at Yale School of Medicine.
“Cancer prevention and treatment efforts should target people while in prison and identify why incarceration is associated with worse outcomes.” Those diagnosed with invasive cancer while incarcerated and within one year after release were also more likely to be younger, male, and non-Hispanic Black or Hispanic. Cancers originating from the gastrointestinal system were the most common cancers in this population, followed by lung and prostate cancer, and leukemia and lymphoma.
While prior studies have identified the association between incarceration and cancer survival time, this study illuminates the immediate post-release period as a particularly high-risk period.
Dr. Oluwadamilola Oladeru, an assistant professor of radiation oncology at the University of Florida. Oladeru is also the co-clinical leader of the University of Florida Breast Center.
“Primary care for people recently released from correctional systems should include screening for treatable cancers, evaluation of symptoms, and addressing social determinants to mitigate these disparities in cancer related deaths,” said Gross
“Our findings may also be pertinent to other state prison systems as the national data reveal that cancer is now the leading cause of death among incarcerated individuals.”
This research was supported by a National Institutes of Health grant. (SM/Newswise)