A new study has highlighted how a comprehensive international private medical insurance policy could save people's lives.
Research published in the American Journal of Public Health found the second most significant factor in the late diagnosis of cervical cancer was a lack of insurance.
Authors attributed the predictor to a failure for people without medical cover to be screened, with the only more significant effect on late diagnosis being the woman's age.
Other variables found to influence someone's likelihood of having this condition diagnosed at a late stage included their geographical location, marital status, socioeconomic factors and race.
Investigators used a large sample of females in the US for the research, analysing women who were diagnosed with cervical cancer between 2000 and 2007.
While cervical screening tests have been shown to result in a dramatic decline in the number of people who die due to this condition, American Cancer Society estimates indicate one-third (35 per cent) of all US patients who find out they have the ailment are diagnosed after it has spread to nearby parts of the body, while 11 per cent discover it after it has reached distant organs.
Furthermore, while people with localised cancers have a five-year survival rate of 91.2 per cent, this drops to just 17 per cent for women with distant cancers and 57.8 per cent among those with a regional form of the disease.
Cervical cancer patients with private health insurance were at stage one at the time of their diagnoses in 55.5 per cent of cases, while this was only 36.4 per cent among those without insurance.
Furthermore, 35.22 per cent of uninsured women had an advanced form of the cancer when it was discovered, although only 24.03 per cent of those with insurance did.
"Advanced-stage disease leads not only to poorer quality of life and greater morbidity, but often to higher treatment costs as well," the report authors stated.
"Late stage at diagnosis is likely attributable to underscreening," they added.
Screening is typically performed in the middle of a woman's menstrual cycle and usually only takes around five minutes.
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