A new study by the WWAMI Rural Health Research Center, led by David Evans, MD, found that patients from rural areas have lower breast cancer screening rates than urban patients.
We found that a greater proportion of rural patients received an initial breast cancer diagnosis at a late stage compared with urban patients and that patients living in remote small rural counties had the highest rate of late-stage breast cancer at diagnosis. Other factors such as Black race and being uninsured were also associated with late stage at diagnosis. Breast cancer survival is known to be worse for rural patients compared to urban, and late stage at diagnosis may be a contributing factor. These disparities are longstanding and suggest areas for further research, advocacy, policy changes, and patient education. Further study is needed to identify appropriate screening availability in rural areas and the burdens that travel presents for patients where screening is not available. Read more about rural breast cancer screening and a companion study of rural colorectal cancer screening.