Cancer survival of children and adolescents in rural areas does not vary from those in urban areas, a finding that differs from adults and that may be due to higher health-insurance rates, according to new research from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.
In what is believed to be the first study of urban/rural child cancer patients in the United States, researchers reviewed 41,879 cases of childhood and adolescent cancer diagnosed in 2000-2010 using data from the U.S. Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results registries.
Previous studies of adults by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had found cancer death rates significantly greater in rural counties than those for metropolitan counties. But the current study differed with those findings and those of other cancer studies of adults.
“We found no evidence of variation in childhood and adolescent cancer survival by rural/urban residents,” wrote the study’s senior author, Dr. Kimberly Johnson, associate professor at the Brown School. She said better health care access due to greater eligibility for public health insurance such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program may be one explanation.
Another difference, she wrote, was the extensive network of pediatric cancer specialists throughout the nation through the Children’s Oncology Group, a program of the National Cancer Institute.
The study was published October 12 in the journal Cancer.
[Photo: Dr. Kimberly Johnson]