A couple of years ago, Joseph Shrager, MD, professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford School of Medicine, noticed a statistical anomaly in his practice. It seemed that patients were diagnosed with lung cancer at a surprisingly higher rate at 65 years old than, say, at 64 or 66. “There was no reason rates should differ much between the ages of 63 and 65,” he said. He talked it over with his thoracic surgeon colleagues at Stanford who said they were seeing something similar. They wondered if the jump in diagnoses might be a result of patients delaying care until they became Medicare eligible at 65. If this reasoning were true, then the delay in screenings or treatments for cancer could greatly impact their survival.
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