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JNCI Cancer Spectr. 2020 Nov 2;5(1):pkaa100. doi: 10.1093/jncics/pkaa100. eCollection 2021 Feb.
BACKGROUND: Hepatocellular carcinoma is 1 of few cancers with rising incidence and mortality in the United States. Little is known about disease presentation and outcomes across the rural-urban continuum.
METHODS: Using the population-based Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registry, we identified adults with incident hepatocellular carcinoma between 2000 and 2016. Urban, suburban, and rural residence at time of cancer diagnosis were categorized by the Census Bureau’s percent of the population living in nonurban areas. We examined association between place of residence and overall survival. Secondary outcomes were late tumor stage and receipt of therapy.
RESULTS: Of 83 368 incident cases of hepatocellular carcinoma, 75.8%, 20.4%, and 3.8% lived in urban, suburban, and rural communities, respectively. Median survival was 7 months (interquartile range = 2-24). All stage and stage-specific survival differed by place of residence, except for distant stage. In adjusted models, rural and suburban residents had a respective 1.09-fold (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.04 to 1.14; P < .001) and 1.08-fold (95% CI = 1.05 to 1.10; P < .001) increased hazard of overall mortality as compared with urban residents. Furthermore, rural and suburban residents had 18% (odds ratio [OR] = 1.18, 95% CI = 1.10 to 1.27; P < .001) and 5% (OR = 1.05, 95% CI = 1.02 to 1.09; P = .003) higher odds of diagnosis at late stage and were 12% (OR = 0.88, 95% CI = 0.80 to 0.94; P < .001) and 8% (OR = 0.92, 95% CI = 0.88 to 0.95; P < .001) less likely to receive treatment, respectively, compared with urban residents.
CONCLUSIONS: Residence in a suburban and rural community at time of diagnosis was independently associated with worse indicators across the cancer continuum for liver cancer. Further research is needed to elucidate the primary drivers of these rural-urban disparities.