Rural Americans have higher death rates from cancer than the rest of the country, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Though cancer death rates have decreased nationwide, there is slower reduction in cancer death rates in rural America compared to urban areas.
The report states that rural areas had higher rates of new cancer cases and deaths from cancer related to tobacco use or preventable by screenings, like lung, colorectal and cervical cancer.
The high numbers of new cancer cases, the report said, could be affected by smoking, obesity, lack of physical activity and other risk factors. Previous CDC research found that rural counties have higher rates of these cancer risk factors than metropolitan areas.
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However, it said that the difference in death rates could be caused by poor access to health care and timely diagnosis and treatment. A Washington Post article about the report said a higher percentage of rural Americans are uninsured, which could explain some of the difference in death rates.
A previous CDC report also found that rural Americans’ life expectancy is declining, another result of fewer health care options in rural areas.
Rural areas contain 15 percent of the U.S. population, about 46 million people, the Post article said.
Specifics of the CDC report include:
▪ Death rates in rural areas were 180 deaths per 100,000 people, 22 more deaths than in urban areas.
▪ New cancer case rates in rural areas were 442 per 100,000 people, slightly lower than urban areas’ 457 cases.
▪ Rural counties experienced lower cancer rates for female breast cancer and prostate cancer but higher rates for lung cancer, colorectal cancer and cervical cancer.