Barriers to Access to Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation among Patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in Virginia


Background: Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) is a standard therapy for patients with intermediate to high-risk acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and is associated with improved long-term disease-free survival. Disparity exists in access to HCT among different patient populations and requires further study. In this study, we compared HCT rates for AML among different regions in the state of Virginia and identified geographic and socioeconomic factors associated with the likelihood of receiving HCT.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective, cohort study of patients 18 to 74 years of age diagnosed with AML in Virginia from 2013 to 2017 as reported to the Virginia Cancer Registry (VCR); the VCR was further linked with the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research database for identification of patients who had undergone HCT within 2 years of diagnosis. Socioeconomic data were generated from the VCR and the American Community Survey. Univariate and multivariable logistic regression models were used to examine selected socioeconomic factors of interest, including patient-level information such as sex, age, race, marital status, and primary insurance payer, as well as factors associated with geography, including the Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) and percentage of African Americans residing in the region. In Virginia, 818 patients were diagnosed with AML from 2013 to 2017, and, of these, 168 patients (21%) underwent HCT within 2 years of diagnosis. Median age was lower in the HCT cohort (55 years) versus the non-HCT cohort (64 years) (P < .001).

Results: There was a higher proportion of married patients in the HCT cohort (67%) versus the non-HCT cohort (53%) (P = .005). The rate of HCT varied by geographic region (P = .004). The multivariable analyses (without including SVI) showed decreased likelihood of HCT with increasing age (odds ratio [OR], .96; 95% confidence interval [CI], .95 to .98). Patients from regions that had a greater than 25% African American population were less likely to undergo HCT (OR, .58; 95% CI, .38 to .89). Patients who were not married were less likely to undergo HCT compared with married patients (OR, .56; 95% CI, .36 to .88). Patients with government-sponsored insurance as the primary payer were less likely to undergo HCT compared with patients with private insurance (OR, .49; 95% CI, .32 to .77). Patients living in Zip Code areas with a greater percentage of population with a bachelor’s or graduate degree were more likely to undergo HCT (OR, 1.02; 95% CI, 1.00 to 1.03). In a separate multivariate model with SVI, patients residing in a Zip Code with higher SVI were less likely to undergo HCT (OR, .37; 95% CI, .16 to .82).

Conclusion: From 2013 to 2017, we found that the likelihood of a patient undergoing HCT in Virginia for AML within 2 years of diagnosis was negatively associated with increasing age, percent of African Americans residing in the region, not-married relationship status, government-sponsored insurance as primary payer, higher SVI, and decreased percent of population with a bachelor’s or graduate degree. Resources should be directed toward at-risk patient populations to remove barriers to improve access to HCT. The SVI can be used to identify communities at risk nationwide.