A study from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health recently found that U.S. rural breast cancer patients typically travel three times as far as urban women for radiation therapy to treat their disease.
The study was led by PhD student Ms. Colleen Longacre and appeared in The Journal of Rural Health.
Ms. Longacre looked at Medicare data from more than 52,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 2004 and 2013. The data was used to determine where the women lived and the location of the facility where they received radiation therapy. Google Maps was used to calculate the distance the women traveled for their treatment.
The study found:
Ms. Longacre suggests providers begin by understanding and taking into account the travel burden faced by their patients — especially those in rural areas — and consider this when making treatment recommendations. She also recommends making patients more aware of social support services that can help them with travel and lodging.