Hurthle cell carcinoma (HCC), also known as oxyphilic adenocarcinoma, is a rare malignancy characterized by the presence of mitochondrion-rich, eosinophilic epithelial cells known as Hurthle cells. HCC is a variant of follicular thyroid cancer and can metastasize more aggressively than other thyroid malignancies. The purpose of this study is to identify how insurance status impacts median survival time in patients with HCC.
Using the NCDB, we identified 10,378 patients diagnosed with HCC between 2004 and 2016 using ICD-O-3 histology code 8290. The cohort was analyzed to identify differences in survival outcomes based on the insurance status of the patient during treatment. The 4 categories of insurance identified were uninsured, private insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare. Univariate analysis was performed assessing patient length of survival for each insurance subtype. Data were analyzed using SPSS and statistical significance was set at P = .05.
We identified statistically significant differences (P < .001) in survival outcomes between privately insured patients and patients with Medicaid or Medicare. Privately insured patients had the highest rates of median survival with 150.9 months, while patients on Medicare had the lowest rates of median survival with 108.1 months. Medicaid and uninsured patients had a median survival rates of 134.5 months and 141.9 months, respectively. 40.8% of privately insured patients presented at stage I, while 20.8% of Medicare patients presented at stage I. Patients with private insurance had the lowest rate of presenting with stage IV disease at 5.0%, which was dramatically different from patients with Medicare that presented with stage IV HCC at a rate of 13.0%.
This study shows the discrepancies of survival in patients with HCC based on insurance coverage. HCC patients with private insurance have significantly longer survival outcomes than patients on Medicaid and Medicare. We hypothesize that privately insured patients are more likely to seek treatment earlier and receive a higher level of care. Privately insured patients were also less likely to present with Stage IV HCC than patients with other insurance statuses. Future directions should analyze how treatment type affects survival outcomes.