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Study links timing of hospital visit to prostate cancer survival odds

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MONDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- Men with prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of their body are more likely to die after visiting an emergency department on the weekend rather than a weekday, a new study finds.

For the study, researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit looked at more than 15,000 of these so-called "metastatic" prostate cancer patients in the United States, who made emergency department visits between 2006 and 2009. The investigators found that 8.1 percent of those who made weekend emergency visits died, compared with 7.7 percent who made weekday visits.

After adjusting for age and the presence of other disease or disorders, the researchers concluded that patients who went to an emergency department on the weekend were 23 percent more likely to die after the visit than those who arrived on a weekday.

Compared to patients seen on weekdays, patients seen on weekends tended to be slightly older (average age of 75 versus 74) and healthier, with fewer other diseases or disorders.

About 14 percent of weekday patients versus 19.5 percent of weekend patients visited a non-metropolitan hospital, the study authors noted.

In addition, weekend patients were less likely to be suffering kidney failure (nearly 15 percent versus about 17 percent of weekday patients), and more likely to have blood in their urine (just under 19 percent versus just over 17 percent of weekday patients).

"Our data clearly show they have higher mortality rates after weekend visits to emergency departments," study lead author Dr. Khurshid Ghani said in a Henry Ford Health System news release. "But as to why, there is only a suggestion that they're more likely being treated at hospitals outside of metropolitan areas, places that may have limited access to advanced care."

Although the study found a higher death rate among metastatic prostate cancer patients who went to the emergency department on weekends versus weekdays, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

The study was scheduled for presentation Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in San Diego. The data and conclusions of research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about prostate cancer.

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