The Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA, or Obamacare) has led to a significant increase in early-stage cancer diagnoses across the country, particularly in states where Medicaid was expanded, according to new research published in the American Journal of Public Health, Medical Xpress reports.

Published by public health researchers at Indiana University, the findings suggest that the continuation of public health insurance can help boost cancer detection, which may ultimately lead to fewer cancer deaths and better outcomes for patients. 

For the study, economics and public policy researchers at IU’s Kelly School of Business looked at cancer registry data from 2010 to 2014 to estimate any changes in national cancer diagnosis rates following the nationwide rollout of the ACA. They also compared cancer diagnosis rates in states that chose to expand their Medicaid programs to those that did not.

Ultimately, the study found that Medicaid expansion under the national health insurance law led to an increase of 15.4 early-stage diagnoses per 100,000 people — an increase of 6.4 percent from pre-ACA levels. Overall, the cancer diagnosis rate increased by 3.4 percent in states that expanded Medicaid compared with their non-expansion counterparts. Researchers also found that the increase in early-stage diagnoses was largely seen in middle-aged individuals — those between 35 and 54 years old. 

According to the study authors, this is big news because early cancer diagnosis increases the likelihood of successful treatment and reduces cancer mortality and states’ cancer-related costs. The researchers also noted that Medicaid expansion did not appear to have any effect on late-stage cancer diagnoses.

The report comes from the same IU study team that found that the ACA increased insurance coverage among those already diagnosed with cancer in 2014. Their latest findings further drive home the idea that increasing access to health care is a significant boon to those suffering from or at risk of developing cancer—as well as to the country’s overall health care infrastructure.