Identifying key barriers to effective breast cancer control in rural settings

Prev Med. 2021 Jul 21:106741. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2021.106741. Online ahead of print.


Breast cancer is the most common cancer and the second most common cause of cancer mortality among women in the United States. Efforts to promote breast cancer control in rural settings face specific challenges. Access to breast cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment services is impaired by shortages of primary care and specialist providers, and geographic distance from medical facilities. Women in rural areas have comparable breast cancer mortality rates compared to women in urban settings, but this is due in large part to lower incidence rates and masks a substantial rural/urban disparity in breast cancer survival among women diagnosed with breast cancer. Mammography screening utilization rates are slightly lower among rural women than their urban counterparts, with a corresponding increase in late stage breast cancer. Differences in breast cancer survival persist after controlling for stage at diagnosis, largely due to disparities in access to treatment. Travel distance to treatment centers is the most substantial barrier to improved breast cancer outcomes in rural areas. While numerous interventions have been demonstrated in controlled studies to be effective in promoting treatment access and adherence, widespread dissemination in public health and clinical practice remains lacking. Efforts to improve breast cancer control in rural areas should focus on implementation strategies for improving access to breast cancer treatments.

PMID:34302837 | DOI:10.1016/j.ypmed.2021.106741