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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

South Carolina: Researchers Find Nearly Twenty Percent of Rural Americans Live More than 60 Miles from Cancer Care Providers

A recently published study by researchers at the Rural and Minority Health Research Center at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health found that rural populations have to travel further to reach cancer specialists, including medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, cancer surgeons and gynecological oncologists. They also found disparities in areas with higher poverty rates, American Indian and Alaska Native residents, and/or in the South and West regions. The findings are published in Cancer.

“Despite improvements in preventive and treatment opportunities for patients with colorectal and cervical cancers, rural patients are less likely to receive state-of-the-art treatment,” says assistant professor of health services policy and management, Dr Peiyin Hung, who led the study.  “In fact, previous studies have associated living in rural areas with cancer diagnosis at a later stage, inappropriate and/or underuse of treatment and poor survival rates.”

While the Healthy People 2020 objectives for reducing colorectal and cervical cancer mortality rates have been met in large urban counties, rural communities have been left behind. These persistent rural-urban disparities in receipt of cancer treatment and cancer mortality rates suggest that rural populations may also have less access to cancer treatment services.

With the present study, the research team analyzed data on physician practice locations from the 2018 Physician Compare survey and information collected in the 2012-2016 American Community Survey – to estimate the driving distance from each residential zip code area to the nearest medical specialists involved in treating colorectal and cervical cancer patients.

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