For pancreatic cancer, a study found significantly lower rates of early stage diagnosis for patients living in rural areas. While lack of primary medical care resources was an important factor, rural residence was an independent predictor of later stage of diagnosis
Why Cancer Has a Greater Impact on Rural Communities
There are many factors at play:
Older average age of rural populations:
Studies show senior citizens are 11 times more likely to develop cancer compared to younger individuals, and about 17.5% of rural Americans are over the age of 65 compared to just 13.8% in urban areas.
Lack of access to quality care delays diagnosis and treatment:
Rural Americans live an average of 10.5 miles from the nearest hospital, compared to suburbanites who live an average of 5.6 miles away, and urbanites live an average of 4.4 miles away.
Other risk factors:
People living in rural areas are more likely to have exposures or other risk factors that put them at higher risk for cancer.