Insurance status, marital status, and county-level income may impact the chances of survival among young patients with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), a new study published online ahead of print in the journal Cancer.1

For the study, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham analyzed data from 5,541 patients younger than 65 to evaluate whether non-biological patients characters, in addition to age and disease characteristics, impact survival.

Results showed that patients who were single or divorced, patients who were uninsured or were Medicaid beneficiaries, and patients who resided in areas with lower income had significantly increased risks of early mortality.

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“We believe these three factors indicate lack of material and social support preventing young patients from successfully walking the long and difficult road towards a cure,” said Uma Borate, MD, lead author of the study, and assistant professor in the University of Alabama Division of Hematology and Oncology.

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The findings suggest that more attention should be paid to resources available to patients, as these affect their survival chances like biological factors.

“Taking from the results of this study, factors that have nothing to do with quality of care need to be accounted for when comparing predicted with actual outcomes–otherwise we will create a disincentive for hospitals and doctors to care for less privileged patients,” said Dr. Borate.

This is the largest study to date to assess how socioeconomic factors affect outcomes in younger patients with AML.


  1. Borate U, Mineishi S, Costa LJ, et al. Non-biological factors affecting survival in younger patients with acute myeloid leukemia [published online ahead of print September 14, 2015]. Cancer. doi: 10.1002/cncr.29436.