Better access to quality cancer care may reduce rural and urban disparities
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PORTLAND, OR – When enrolled in a cancer clinical trial, the differences in survival rates between rural and urban patients are significantly reduced, SWOG study results show.

The study results are published in JAMA Network Open by a team led by Joseph Unger, PhD, a SWOG biostatistician and health services researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. It’s the first study to comprehensively compare survival outcomes in rural and urban cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials.

The results cast new light on decades of research, which paints a stark picture of cancer disparities. About 19 percent of Americans live in rural areas, and studies have shown that, when faced with cancer, rural patients don’t live as long as urban cancer patients. For example, statistics published by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2017 show a significant difference in the rate of cancer deaths, with 180 people out of 100,000 dying of cancer in rural areas compared with 158 people out of 100,000 dying of cancer in urban areas between 2011 and 2015.

But the new analysis by SWOG, the international cancer clinical trials network funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), indicates that this difference in survival is not due

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