Ovarian Cancer Often More Advanced at Diagnosis in Rural Areas in US

Ovarian Cancer Often More Advanced at Diagnosis in Rural Areas in US
Women living in rural areas in the U.S. are significantly more likely to have metastatic disease at the time of their ovarian cancer diagnosis than those living in metropolitan areas, a study of patients in three Midwest states found. This finding is likely not a consequence of travel time to reach a primary care provider. Rather, researchers said, it may be due to greater distances for obstetric gynecologists, fewer clinical resources, lesser expertise among specialists, and a hesitancy among women in rural areas to seek medical care. The study, “Impact of Rurality on Stage IV Ovarian Cancer at Diagnosis: A Midwest Cancer Registry Cohort Study,” was published in the Journal of Rural Health. Individuals who live in rural areas are more likely to have poorer cancer outcomes, including lower survival rates. These poorer outcomes are likely related to a number of factors, including lesser access to healthcare services and a lower socioeconomic status. Although the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends against regular screenings for ovarian cancer, a delay in diagnosis appears to be more frequent for those living in rural areas. Ovarian cancer patients in rural areas are also less likely to easily be able to access specialty surgical care and treatment once diagnosed. Given that the stage of ovarian cancer at diagnosis is one of the strongest predictors of survival, a group of  researchers in the U.S. set out to determine whether ovarian cancer patients in rural areas are diagnosed at a more advanced stage than those in urban areas. Specifically, they looked at how a rural location affected metastatic cancer (stage IV) at diagnosis, regardless of distance to primary care provider and patients’ socioeconomic status. Using statewi
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