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Study Sheds Light On Rural-Urban Cancer Divide

<p>Breast cancer is the most common cancer found among American women but Latinas are more likely to be diagnosed at later stages.</p>

Damian Dovarganes

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Breast cancer is the most common cancer found among American women but Latinas are more likely to be diagnosed at later stages.

Survival rates for cancer depend on where you live — at least partially.

Urban patients tend to do better than rural patients. Researchers have long tried to figure out how that divide happens in the first place.

And a new study out of the Pacific Northwest may hold some answers. It found that when patients are enrolled in a clinical trial, the rural-urban disparity disappears.

Joseph Unger with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle thinks researchers may have been looking for answers in the wrong places.

Instead of looking at general cancer population data, he looked at clinical trials.

“And what we found was that cancer patients treated in rural areas, receiving the same treatment on clinical trials, had essentially the same outcomes as corresponding urban cancer patients," he said.

Basically, when urban and rural patients got the same treatment, the disparity disappeared.

Copyright 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He specializes in health care, business, politics, law and public safety.